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" or most diaoKlrovs chnncre, 
• or iinvlnn miidcnts, by flixnl ;ini| field ; 

or liair-hrcniltli M'a|ios V tin; inmilneiit deadly brnnrli." — ShakKjk'nre, 
" There l8 n eonw wliicli ia urien iiNiiit him, iiiiiiecn and uiiaiispected, mid widiii in lulHjiirinR 
■a lunl rur liiiii In i>iiu:e m otliers do in km."— The Timrt. 

ith StbtnJctit (folonrtb IllushnfJotts. 






TiiE First Edition of the Work has long been out of print, and 
tiie Second would have been published earlier, only that an 
expected change in the designation of the corps delayed its 
appearance. That change having occurred, the volumes are 
republished, recording the services of the corp-i to the date it 
continued to bear its old title. 

Revised in many places, with verbal inaccuracies corrected, 
aided moreover by journals and official memoranda placed at 
my disposal to modify or enlarge certain incidents and services, 
the work is as complete as it would seem to be possible at 
present tc produce it 

The concluding Chapters record the services of the corps in 
the Aland Islands, in Turkey, Bulgaria, Circassia, Wallachia, 
and the r 'mea. Tlie siege of Seba?' pol and the destruction 
of the memorable docks have been given with the fulness which 
the industry and gallantry of the sappers merited; and in 
order that the many adventures and enterprises recorded in the 
final years of the history should not fail in interest and accu- 
racy, Colonel Sandham, the Director of the Royal Engineer 
Establishment, with the permission of General Sir John Bur- 
goyne, kindly lent me the assistance of the Engineers' Diary 
of the Siege, as well as several collateral reports concern- 



ing its progrees and tho demolition of the docks. At the 
same time I think it right to say, that no attempt hns been 
mode in these pages to offer a history of the Crimean opera- 
tions. So much only of the details has been worked into the 
narrative as was necessary to preserve unbroken the thread of 
sapper services in connexion with particular works and under- 

It should also be borne in mind, that these volumes arc 
devoted to the affairs of the Royal Sappers and Miners ; and, 
consequently, that care has been taken to touch as lightly as 
practicable on the services of other regiments. Hence the 
officers of the Royal Engineers have only been named when 
it was desirable to identify thom with parties of Sappers, whom 
i)n certain occasions they connnanded. 

I feel a loyal pride in being able to state that the work has 
been honoured with the munificent {>atronagc of Her Majesty 
the Queen, and of His Royal Highness the Prince Albert ; 
than which nothing could be more acceptable to me, cither as 
an author or a subject. 

In closing I beg to express my deep obligations to General 
Sir John Burgoyne, Rirt., G.C.B., the officers of the corps 
generally, my personal friends, and the ])ublic, for the ])atronagc 
with which I have been favoured ; and also to the Tress, for 
the handsome manner in which it has noticed and commended 
my labours. 

Broinpton Barracks, 
March 1857. 

DEC 1 1928 


In 1836, soon after Lieutenant Robert Dashwood, R.E., was 
appointed Acting Adjutant of the Royal Sajjpers and Miners 
at Woolwich, he was directetl by Brigade-Major, now Colonel 
Matson, to prepare a list of officers of the Royal Engineers who 
had commanded, from time to time, the different companies of 
the corps. I assisted him in the duty ; but while he was in the 
midst of his work, he was prematurely cut off by death, and the 
task of completing the statement devolved on mc. It now 
forms a referential record at the head-quarter office. 

Led in its progress to consult old documents and returns, I 
conceived the idea of making myself acquainted with the whole 
history of the corps. With this view, after daily fulfilling the 
routine duty of the office, I spent all my leisure intervals in 
bringing to light old books and papers, which for years had 
been buried in disused depositories and stores. 

Whilst thus engaged, two Acting Adjutants, Lieutenants 
F. A. Yorke and T. Webb, R.E., were successively appointed 
to the corps at Woolwich. Both officei-s entered with some 
spirit into the attempt to trace a history of its services ; ,but 
before they had proceeded to any great length, were interrupted 
in their labours by removal to other stations in consecjuence of 
promotion. /Adjutant Yorke, however, succv .', ^ so far, that 
he drew up a brief account of the formation of tlie sappers, 


commencing with the Gibraltar company in 1772, and detailed 
its aubscquont augmentations and reductions. This statement 
also forms a permanent record in the office ; and Captain Webb 
made fair progress with an outline account of its active services. 
To both officers it was my good fortune to affi^rd such aid as 
they required, in the collection of information for their respective 

In 18.<, when medals were granted to the veterans of the 
last war, Brigade-Major, now Colonel Sandham, observed the 
readiness with which I spoke of historical events in which the 
corps was concerned, and of the services of particular indi- 
viduals who had belonged to it He also saw the facility witli 
which I supplied the information required to establish the 
claims of the several applicants for medals and clasps. This 
induced him, after some little conversation on the subject, to 
direct me to prepare for publication a history of the corps. 
Much ^^fragmentary matter I had already accumulated, for 
twelve years had been consumed [by me in wading through 
books and documents in quest of dates and occurrences. 
Nevertheless, it was not without serious misgivings that I set 
myself officially to the task, and the researches and labours 
embodied in the following pages are the result 

In the intervals of important and onerous public duty, the 
materials for the memoir have been collected and the work 
methodized and written. Necessarily severe was the applica- 
tion required under such circumstances ; but by steady perse- 
verance, even at times when my health was scarcely able to bear 
up against the exertion it needed, I have succeeded, without 
omitting any service that I know of, in completing the history to 
the siege of Sebastopol. 

The work certainly is one of no pretension, and on this score 
may be regarded as having cost but little toil in its preparation ; 



hilt I may observe, that from tlic absence of mniiy particular 
records, the unaccountable neglect in furnishing' others, and 
the striking ini|)erfcctions in many of the remaining itupcrs, 
arising from complexity, vagueness, obliteration, or decay, 
more than ordinary difficulty, research, and trouble were ex- 
|)erienced, in gathering the materials essential :• ive anything 
like a reasonable delineation of the events nanMlud in the 
Memoir. Paucity of detail in numbers, wan: ot description 
with reference to particular occurrences, and ga|*o in niany 
years from the loss of muster-r«)lls and official docuniei;t^, run 
through a period of nearly half a century, from 1772 to 1815: 
and strange oa it may appear, even the casual ties in action so 
carefully reported in other corps, have, from some iiioxplicable 
cause, either been omitted c-Uogether in the war despatches or 
given inaccurately. In later years, however, the connexion 
between the officers of the Royal Engineers and the soldiers of 
the Royal Sappers and Miners has been so fully established, 
that attention to these important minutis forms a decided 
feature in the improved command of the corps. 

In employments of a purely civil character in which the 
Royal Sappers and Miners have shared, care has been taken to 
explain, as fully as the records and collateral evidence would 
admit, the nature of its duties ; and, likewise, to multiply 
authorities to prove the estimation in which it was held for 
its services and conduct This has been mainly done, to offer 
a practical reply to an association, incorporated within the last 
twelve years, which, in the course of a futile agitation, endea- 
voured by injuriou? statements to lessen the corps in public 

All mention of the Royal Engineers in this memoir has been 
studiously suppressed, except when such was unavoidable to 
give identity to the different duties and services of the Royal 



Sappers and Miners, and also, when tlieir direct and particular 
connexion with the corj)s in certain situations, rendered allusion 
to them justifiable. This course was suggested to me by an 
officer of high rank, for the obvious reason that, as the Royal 
Engineers is a body entirely distinct from the Sappers and 
Miners, and possesses its own annals, any reference to, or par- 
ticularization of, its services in a work professedly confined to 
the corps, would not only be extraneous, but tend to lessen its 
value, and weaken its interest with those for whose information 
it was especially written. 

Here, however, it should be observed, that the Royal Sap- 
pers and Miners, though a separate and integral body of itself, 
is nevertheless, and has been from the commencement, officered 
by the Royal Engineei's ; and whatever excellence or advance- 
ment is traced in its career and public usefulness, whether as 
soldiers or mechanics, is fairly, in a great degree, attributable 
to the officers ; for, in every circumstance of service and situa- 
tion, they have liberally opened up for them new channels of 
emjjloyment to engage their faculties and energies, and have 
afforded them at all times scope and facilities to develop their 
mental and physical resources, and to fit them to perform with 
credit, not only the circumscribed duties of soldiers, but the 
more extended requirements of sappers, artizans, and profes- 
sional men. 

By the omission of all but special reference to the officers, 
room has thus been given for mentioning many non-commis- 
sioned officers and j)rivates, who have attracted public attention 
and gained encomium for their meritorious services ; some for 
their skill and ingenuity ; oth(!rs for their integrity and devo- 
tion ; and others for their acquirements, their vigorous exertions 
and labours ; their ardour, their endurance, and their valour. 
While the recognition of such examples cannot fail to incite 



others to emulate the military virtues of their more distin- 
guished predecessors and comrades, it is earnestly hoped, that 
every member of the corps will be led to feel a personal interest 
in its reputation and honour, and a pride in its discipline and 
loyalty ; its usefulness and efficiency in peace ; its heroism and 
achievements in war. 

The drawings were executed on stone by George B. Campion, 
Esq., master of landscape drawing at the Royal Military 
Academy, Woolwich. In illustrations like those in the present 
volumes, it was scarcely possible to delineate with exactness 
th" complicated ornament which make up the emembk of a 
soldier's uniform. Notwithstanding this disadvantage, the 
costume has been well defined, and much interest given to the 
embellishments, by the introduction of accessories, characteristic 
of the duties and employments of the corps. 

My respectful acknowledgments are due to Sir John Bur- 
goyne, the Inspector-General of Fortifications, for making the 
subject of my exertions known in a circular from his own hand, 
to the officers of the Royal Engineers ; and in offering him the 
expression of my gratitude, I think it right with a feeling of 
sincere thankfulness to mention, that the success which has 
attended that kind appeal, has been more, perhaps, than I 
could reasonably expect Several of the officers have afforded 
me much encouragement in the work, y well by suggestion 
and advice, as by the liberality of their contributions; but, 
wanting the liberty to publish their names, 1 am precluded 
from making a record, to which it would have been nay pride to 
give publicity. 

To my own corps I am also indebted for many pleasing 
proofs of concern, as evinced in thoir anxiety to s^ee the under- 
taking prosper. Nearly 200 copies have been demanded by 

the non-commissioned officers, including a few of the privates, 
VOL. I. b 


and when the price of the work is considered, the generosity of 
my patrons is as strikinp as noble. 

To S. W. Fulloni, Esq., I here offer the expression of my 
grateful thanks for his amiable and disinterested counsel, cheer- 
fully accorded on the many occasions I had to seek it ; and for 
kindly assisting me in looking over the sheets as the work 
passed through the press. 

I now submit the volumes to my corps and the profession, 
and am not without hope that they may also be acceptable to 
a portion of the public. As far as the sources of my informa- 
tion and research have extended, the memoir will be found 
truthful and impartial. It was my aim to execute it with an 
integrity that would place me beyond impeachment : I therefore 
feel some confidence tliat indulgence will be shown for its 
defects, and also for whatever errors, through inadvertency, 
may have crept into the work. 


Km/al Sappers and Minern' Barracka, 
Woolmch, March ISoS. 

ncrosity of 

ion of my 

iscl, cheer- 

t ; and for 

the work 

leptable to 
ly informa- 
1 be found 
! it with an 
I therefore 
wn for its 





Orij,;& of Corps — Its establishment and pay — Engineers to command it 
—Its designation— Working pay — Recruiting — Dismissal of civil artifi- 
cers — Names of officers — Non-commissioned officers — First augmenta- 
tion — Consequent promotions — Names of other officers joined— King's 
Bastion — Second augmentation ....... 


Jealousy of Spain — Declares -var with England — Strength of the garrison 
at Gibraltar — Preparations for defence and employment of the company 
— Siege commenced — Privations of the garrison — Grand sortie and con- 
duct of the company — Its subsequent exertions — Origin of the subter- 
ranean galleries — Their extraordinary prosecution — Princess Anne's 
battery — Third augmentation — Names of non-commissioned officers . 


Siege continued — Magnitude of the works — Chevaux-de-frise from Land- 
port — Glacis across the inundation— Precis of other works— Firing red- 
hot shot — Damage done to the works of the garrison, and exertions of 
the company in restoring them — Grand attack, and burning of the 
battering flotilla — Reluctance of the enemy to quit the contest — Kilns 
for heatingshot — Orange bastion — Subterranean galleries— Discovery of 
the enemy mining under the Rock — Ulterior dependence of the enemy 
— Peace — Conduct of the company during the siege — Casualties . 




Due de Crillon's compliments respecting the works — Subterranean gal- 
leries — Their supposed inefficiency— Henry Ince— Quickness of sight of 
two boys of the company — Employment of the boys during the siege- 
Thomas Richmond and .lohn Brand — Models constructed by them . 29 

b 2 





State of the fortress— Execution of the works depended upon the company 
— Casualties filled up by transfers from the line — Composition — Re- 
cruiting—Relieved from all duties, garrison and regimental — Anniver- 
sary of the destruction of the Spanish battering flotilla • . .39 


Company divided into two — Numerous discharges — Cause of the men be- 
coming so soon ineffective — Fourth augmentation — Labourers — Recroit- 
ing, reinforcements — Dismissal of foreign artificers — Wreck of brig 
• Mercury ' — Uniform dress — Working ditto — Names of officers— Privi- 
leges — Cave under the signal-house 43 


Colonel Debhieg's proposal for organizing a corps of artificers — Rejected 
— Employment of artillerymen on the works at home — Duke of Rich- 
mond's " Extensive plans of fortification" — Formation of corps ordered 
— Singular silence of the House of Commons on the subject — Mr. Sheri- 
dan calls attention to it — Insertion of corps for first time in the Mutiny 
Bill — Debate upon it in both Plouses of Parliament . . . .53 


Constitution of corps — Master artificers— Officers— Rank and post of the 
corps — Captains of companies ; stations — Allowance to captains ; adju- 
tants — Recruiting — Labourers — " Richmond's whims " — Progress of 
recruiting — Articles of agreement— Co; ps not to do garrison duty — 
Sergeant-Majors — John Drew — Alexander Spence — Uniform dress — 
Working dress — Hearts o' pipe-clay — " The Queen's bounty " — Arms, 
&c. — Distinction of ranks — Jews' wish 64 


Appointment of Quartermaster and Colonel-Commandant— Distribution 
of corps. Captains of companies — Jealousy and ill-feeling of the civil 
artificers— Riot at Plymouth — Its casualties — Recruits wrecked ou 
passage to Gibraltar — Song, " Bay of Biscay, O !"— Defence of t! , 

Tower of London against the Jacobins — Bagshot-heath encampment 

Alterations in the uniform and working dress 72 


War with France — Artificers demanded for foreign service— Consequent 
effects— Detachment to West Indies — Fever at Antigua— Detachment 
to Flanders— Siege of Valenciennes— Waterdown Camp— Reinforce- 
ment to Flanders— Siege of Dunkirk — Nieuport— Another reinforce- 
ment to Flanders— Toulon— Private Samuel Myers at Fort Mulgrave — 
Formation of four companies for service abroad— Establishment and 
strength of corps g] 





ion — Re- 

I men bc- 


of brig 

s— Privi- 

of Rich- 
)s ordered 
ilr. Sheri- 
e Mutiny 




)ost of the 
ins ; adju- 
rogress of 
on duty — 
n dress — 

f the civil 
recked ou 
ice of t! ^ 
tmpment — 

lulgrave — 
hment and 





Working dress —Company sails for West IndieB — Martinique — Spirited 
conduct of detachment there — Guadaloupe — Mortality — Toulon — 
Flanders — Reinforcement to company there — Return of the company — 
Works at Gravesend — Irregularities in the corps — Causes — Redeeming 
qualities — Appointment of Regimental Adjutant and Sergeant-major — 
Consequences — Woolwich becomes the head-quarters — Alteration in 
working dress .......... 90 


Companies to St. Domingo and the Caribbee Islands — Reduction of St. 
Lucia— Conduct of company there — Gallantry in forming lo<lgment and 
converting it into a battery — Attack on Bombarde — Distribution and 
conduct of St. Domingo company — Mortality in the West Indies — De- 
tachment to Halifax, Nova Scotia — Dougal Hamilton — Detachments to 
Calshot Castle and St. Marcou 




Detachments to Portugal — To Dover — Transfers to the Artillery — Enlist- 
ment of artificers only — Incorporation of Gibraltar companies with the 
corps — Capture of Trinidad — Draft to West Indies— Failure at Porto 
Rico— Fording the lagoon, by private D. Sinclair — Private W. Rogers 
at the bridge St. Julien — Saves his officer — Casualties by fever in Carib- 
bean company — Filling up company at St. Domingo with negroes — 
Mutinies in the fleet at Portsmouth — Conduct of Plymouth company 
Emente In the Royal Artillery, Woolwich — Increase of pay — Marquis 
Comwallis's approbation of the corps — Mutiny at the Nore — Consequent 
removal of detachment to Gravesend — Alterations in dress . . . 105 


Contribution of corps to the State — Detachment with expedition to mari- 
time Flanders— Destruction of the Bruges canal — Battle near Ostend — 
Draft to West Indies — Capture of Surinam — St. Domingo evacuated — 
Expedition to Minorca— Conduct of detachment while serving there — 
Composition of detachments for foreign service — Parties to Sevenoaks 
and Harwich— Mission to Turkey — Its movements and services— Special 
detachrpont to Gibraltar to construct a cistern for the Navy— Detach- 
ment with the expedition to Holland— Its services— Origin of the Royal 
StaffCorps 116 


Mortality in the West Indies— Blockade of Malta — Capture of a transport 
on passage from Nova Scotia- Movements and services of detachments 
in Turkey ; attacked with fever — Anecdote of private Thomas Taylor 
at Constantinople— Cruise of expedition to Cadiz — Attack on the city 
abandoned— Subsequent movements of the expedition; Malta; and 
rc-embarkatiou for Slgypt— Statistics of companies at Gibraltar . , 126 





Distribution of corps — Dispersion of West India company — Statistics — 
Detachment to St. Marcou— Capture of Danish settlements— Casualties 
in West India company— Compared with mortality in Gibraltar com- 
panies — Working dress — Services, &c., of detachment at Gibraltar — 
Conduct of Sergeant W. Shirres— Concession to the companies by the 
Duke of Kent— Cocked hat superseded by the chaco .... 132 


Party to Ceylon — The treaty of Amiens broken — State of West India 
company — Capture of St. Lucia — Tobago — Demerara, Essequibo, and 
lierbice — Works at Spike Island — Capture of Surinam — Conduct of 
private George Mitchell — Uataviun soldiers join West India company — 
Fever at Gibraltar — Consequent mortality — Humane and intrepid conduct 
of three privates — Invasion of England — Works at Dover — Jersey — 
Chelmsford — Martello towers at Eastbourne — Bomb tenders at Wool- 
wich — Recruiting — Volunteers from the Line and Militia — Treaty of 
St. Petersburg — Party to Naples — Ditto to Hanover . . . .141 


First detachment to Cape of Good Hope — Misfortunes at Buenos Ayres — 
Reinforcements to Gibraltar — Services at Calabria — Formation of 
Maltese military artificers — Increase of pay to royal military artificers 
— Augmentation to the corps and reorganization of the companies — 
Establishment and annual expense — Working pay — Sub-Lieutenants 
introduced — Indiscipline and character of the corps .... 153 

Appointments of Adjutant and Quartermaster — Captain John T. Jones — 
Disasters at Buenos Ayres — Egypt — Reinforcement to Messina — De- 
tachment of Maltese military artificers to Sicily — Newfoundland — 
Copenhagen — Captures in the Caribbean Sea — Madeira — Danish Islands 
in the West Indies— Hythe ........ 161 


War in the Peninsula — Kxpedition thither— Detachments to the seat of 
war, with Captains Landmann, Elphinstone, Squire, Burgoyne, and 
Smyth— Captain John T. Jones- Remforcement to Newfoundland — 
Discipline at Halifax — Services at Messina — Parties temporarily de- 
tached to different places — The queue .... 165 


Retreat to Coruiia — Miserable state of the detachment on reiiching Eng- 
land — Hardships of the stragglers — Capture of Martinique — Skill of 
George Mitchell ht the siege — Fever in the West Indies— Reduction of 


tistics — 
ar com- 
)raltar — 
s by the 


the Saintes— Detachment to Portugal — liattles of Oporto and Talavera 
— Casualties in the retreat, and distribution of the party— Naples — 
Zante and tlie Ionian Islands — Term of service of the Maltese military 
artificers — Siege of Flushing — Services of the military artificers there 
— Gallantry, in the batteries, of John Millar, Thomas Wild, and Thomas 
Letts— Conduct of corps at the siege — <"asualties by the Walcheren fever 
— Skilful conduct of Corporal T. Stevens in the demolitions at Flushing 
— Captain John T. Jones — Servants — Incidental detachments . . 


'St India 
ibo, and 
aduct of 
mpany — 
t conduct 
Jersey — 
at Wool- 
^rcaty of 


Ayres — 
lation of 
ipauies — 



Capture of Guadaloupe — Of St. Martin's and St. Eustatius— Torres Vedras 
— Anecdote of Coriwral William Wilson at the Lines — Almeida and 
Kusaco — Detachments to Cadiz— Puntales and La Isia — Destruction of 
Forts Barbara and St. Felipe, near Gibraltar — Santa Maura — Occasional 
detachments . . ........ 175 


Mortality in the West Indies — Strength and distribution of detachments 
in the Peninsula — Recapture of Oliveuza — Fielil instruction prior to 
siege of Hadajoz — Onduct of corps at the siege — Conduct of Sergeant 
Kogere in reconnoitring — Keinforcenient to Portugal and duties of the 
(letachment^Its distribution and services — -Itattle of Uarrosa ; gallant 
conduct of Sergeant John Cameron — Tarragona — Defence of Tarifa — 
Augmentation to corps and reconstruction of companies — Annual 
expense of corps — Command of the companies — Their stationary 
character — The wealthy corporal — New distribution of corps — Commis- 
sions to Sub-Lieutenants, and ingenious inventions of Lieutenant Munro 178 

, Jones — 
iua — De- 
indland — 
ih Islands 


le seat of 
lyne, and 
indland — 
rarily dc- 


ling Bug- 
-Skill of 
luctiun of 


Plymouth company instruct. ' in field duties — Engineer establishment at 
C^hatham — Major Pasley app jinted its director — Discipline and drill of 
corps — Its character— Sir John Sinclair ex-private — Title of corps 
changed — Captain G. ISuchanan — A sergeant acrobat — Cuidad liodrigo 
— Exertions of a company on the march to the siege — Repairs to the 
fortress — Siege of Ba<lajoz — Difficulties in removing the stores to the 
park — Duties of the sappers in the operation — Gallant behaviour of 
Patrick Hooncy and William Harry — Also of a party at Fort Picurina, 
and of Patrick Huike and Robert Miller — Hazardous attempt to blow 
down the batardeau in the ditch of the lunette, and conduct of corporal 
Stack — Hravery of a party in mining under the bridge of the inundation 
— Distribution of the Peninsular companies and their services — Bridges 
of Yecla and Serraila — Reinforcement to Spain^ — Salamanca — Burgos, 
and boldness of Patrick Burke and Andrew Alexander at the siege — 
Bridge of Alba — Carthageim— Reinforcement to Cadiz ; action at Seville 
—Reinforcement to the Peninsula and distribution of the sappers — 
(Jrcen Island — Tarragona — First detachment to Bermuda . . . 187 








Designation of corpt modified — Uniform — Working dress — Arms — Mode 
of promoting non-commissioned officers — Rank of colour-sergeant created 
— Company to Canada — Reinforcement to Bermuda — Sub-Lieutenant 
Mackenzie appointed Town-Major there — Sickness at Gibraltar — Ser- 
vices of company in East Catalonia — Maiha da Sorda — Services on the 
advance to Vittoria — Bridge at Toro — Blockade of Pampeluna — 
Pyrenees — Stockades near Roncesvalles — San Sebastian and services of 
the corps at the siege — Valour of sergeants Powis and Davis — Of private 
Borland ; and of corporal Evans — Casualties in the siege — Restoration 
of the fortifications — Pontoon train — Bidassoa — Bridge across it, and 
conduct of privates Owen Connor and Nowlan — Vera — Nivelle, and 
behaviour of corporal Councill — Bridge over that river — Bridges over 
the Nive, and daring exertions of private Dowling — Fording the Nive, 
and posts of honour accorded to corporal Jamieson and private Braid — 
Strength and distribution of corps in the Peninsula — Recruiting. , 197 


Wreck of ' Queen ' transport ; humanity of sergeant Mackenzie ; heroic 
exertions of private M'Carthy — Quarternaster ; Brigade-Major — 
Santona; useful services of corporal Hay — Bridge of Itzassu near 
Cambo — Orthes ; conduct of sergeant Stephens — ^Toulouse — Bridge of 
the Adour ; duties of the sappers — Flotilla to form the bridge — Casual- 
tics in venturing the bar — Conduct of the corps in its construction — 
Bayonne— Expedition to North America — Return to England of certain 
companies from the Peninsula — Company to Holland ; its duties ; bridge 
over the Maerk ; Tholen ; Fort Frederick — March for Antwerp — Action 
at Merxam — Esprit de corps — Coolness of sergeant Stevens and corporal 
Milbum — Distribution ; bridge-making — Surprise of Berger-op-Zoom — 
Conduct of the sap;^«>rs, and casualties in the operation — A mild Irish- 
man — Bravery of corporal Creighton and private Lomas — South Beve- 
land — Reinforcement to the Netherlands — Review by the Emperor of 
Russia — School for companies at Antwerp — Detachments in the Nether- 
lands, company at Tournai — Movements of the company in Italy and 
Sicily — Expedition to Tuscany ; party to Corfu — Canada ; distribution 
of company there, and it;i active services — Reinforcement to Canada- 
Washington, Baltimore, New Orleans — Notice of corporal Scrafield — 
Expedition to the State of Maine 209 


siege of Fort Boyer — Alertness of company on passage to New Orleans — 
Return of the sappers from North America — Services and movemsnts of 
companies in Canada — Also in Nova Scotia — Captures of Martinique 
and Guadaloupe— Services and movements of companies in Italy — 
Maltese sappers disbanded — Pay of Sub-Lieutenants — Ypres — Increase 
to sappers' force in Holland; its duties and detachments; notice of 
sergeant Purcell— Renewal of the war— Strength of the corps sent to 



the Netherlands — Pontoneers — Battle of Waterloo — Disastrous situation 
of a company in retreating — General order about the alarm and the 
stragglers — Sergeant-major Hilton at Hrussels — Notice of lance-corporal 
Donnelly — Exertions of another company in pressing to the field — 
Organization of the engineer establishment in France — Pontoon train — 
Magnitude of the engineer establishment; hired drivers; Flemish 
seamen — Assault of Peronne, valour of SuMieutenant Stratton and 
lance-corporal Councill — Pontoon bridges on the Seine — Conduct of 
corps during the campaign — Corporal Coombs with the Prussian army 
— Usefulness of the sappers in attending to the horses, &c., of the 
department in France — Domiciliary visit to Montmartre . . . 225 


Movements in France — Return of six companies from thence to England — 
Strength of those remaining, and detachments from them— St. Helena — 
Return of company from Italy— Disbandment of the war company of 
Maltese sappers — Battle of Algiers — Conduct of corps at Valenciennes — 
Instances in which the want of arms was felt during the war — Arming 
the corps attributable to accidental circumstances — Training and 
instruction of the corps in France — Its misconduct — But remarkable 
efficiency at drill — Municipal thanks to companies at Valenciennes — 
Dress — Bugles adopted — Reduction in the corps — Sub-lieutenants 
disbanded — Withdrawal of companies from certain stations — Relief of 
company at Barbadoes — Repairing damages at St. Lucia; conduct of the 
old West India company — Corfu — Inspection of corps in France — 
Epaulettes introduced — Sordid conduct of four men in refusing to wear 
them — Murder of private Milne, and consequent punishment of corps iu 
France by the Duke of Wellington — Return of the sappers from 
France 241 



Reduction in the corps — Distribution — Sergeant Thomas Brown, the 
modeller — Reinforcement to the Cape, and services of the detachment 
during the Kaffir war — Epidemic at Bermuda— Damages at Antigua 
occasioned by a hurricane — Visit to Chatham of the Duke of Clarence 
— Withdrawal of a detachment from Corfu — A private becomes a peer 
— Draft to Bermuda — Second visit to Chatham of the Duke of Clarence 
— Fever at Barbadoes — Death of Napoleon, and withdrawal of company 
from St. Helena — Notice of private John Bennett — Movements of the 
company in Canada — Trigonometrical operations under the Board of 
Longitude— Feversliam— Relief of the "'d Gibraltar company — Breast- 
plates — St. Nicholas' Island — Conditio., -^f company at Barbadoes when 
inspected by the Engineer Commission — Scattered state of the detach- 
ment at the Cape — Services of the detachment at Curfu — Intelligence 
and usefulness of sergeant Hall and corporal Lawson — Special services 
of corporal John Smith — Pontoon trials — Shecrness — Notice of corporal 
Shorter — Forage-caps and swords 



1«25— 1820. 


Dress— Curtailment of benefits by the change— Chacos — Survey of Ireland 
— Formation of the first company for tlic duty — Establishment of corps; 
company to Corfu — Second company for the survey — KtTorts to complete 
the companies raisi^d for it — ^Pontoon trials in presence of the Duke of 
Wellington — Western Africa — Third company for the survey; addi- 
tional working pay — Kniployments and strength of the sappers in 
Ireland— Drnnmiond Light; Slieve Snacht and Divis — Endurance of 
private Alexander Smith — Wreck of 'Shipley' transport — Berbice; 
corporal Sirrell at Antigua ........ 



Augmentation — Reinforcement to Bermuda — Ompanics for Ridean Canal 
-Keinforcement to the Ciipc — Monument to the memory of General 
Wolfe — Increase to the survey companies— Supernumerary promotions 
— Measurement of Lough Koyle base — Suggestion of sergeant Sim for 
measuring acroas the river Roe — Si rvey companies inspected by Major- 
General Sir James C. Smith ; opinion of their services by Sir Henry 
Hardingc — Sergeant-major Townscnd — Demolition of the Glaciere 
Bastion at Quebec — Banquet to fifth company by Ixird Dalhousie — 
Service of the sappers at the citadel of Quebec — Notice of sergeants 
Dunnett and John Smith— Works to be executed by contract — Trial 
of pontoons, and exertions of corporal James Forbes — Epidemic at 
Gibraltar— Island of Ascension ; corporal Btal — Forage-caps — Company 
withdrawn from Nova Scotia — Party to Sandhurst College, and useful- 
ness of corporal Forbes ......... 



'1 he chaco — Brigade-Major Rice Jones — Island of Ascension — Notice of 
corporal Beal — Detachment to the Tower of London — Chatham during 
the Reform agitation — Staff appointments — Sergeant M'Laren the first 
medallist in the corps- Terrific hurricane at Barbadoes ; distinguished 
conduct of colour-sergeant Harris and corporal Muir — Subaqueous 
destruction of the 'Arethusa' at Barbadoes — Return of a detachment to 
the Tower of London — Rideau canal; services of the sappers in its 
construction ; casualties ; ami disbandment of the companies — Costume 
— First detachment to the Mauritius — Notice of corporal Heed — Pen- 
dennis Castle 281 


Inspection at Chatham by Lord Hill— Pontoon experiments — Withdrawal 
of companies from the ports — Reduction of the corps, and reorganization 
(if the companies — Recall of companies from abroad — Purflcet — Trigo- 
nometrical survey of west coast of England— Dratt to the Cape — Review 
at Chatham by Lord Hill— Motto to the corps— Reinforcement to the 



)f Ireland 
of corps ; 
Duke of 
y: addi- 
ippcrs in 
u ranee of 
Uerbice ; 


3au Canal 
' General 
t Sim for 
by Major- 
iir Henry 
illiousie — 
let— Trial 
idemic at 
nd useful- 


-Notice of 
tm during 
a the first 
chment to 
ers in its 
icd — Pcn- 


't — Trigo- 
— Review 
!nt to the 


Mauritius — Inspection at Woolwich by Sir Frederick Mulcaster — 
Mortality from cholera ; services uf corporals Hopkins and Kitchley — 
Kntertaiunient to the detachment at the Mauritius by Sir William 
Nicolay — Triangulation of the west coast of Scotland — Kaffir war- 
Appointments of ten foremen of works— Death of Quartermaster Gallo- 
way—Succeeded by sergeant-major Hilton^Sergeant Forbes— Notice 
of his father — Lieutenant Dashwood — Euphrates expedition — Labours 
of the party— Sergeant Sim — Generosity of Colonel Chesncy, R.A. — 
Additional smiths to the expedition — Loss of the * Tigris ' steamer — 
Descent of the Euphrates — Sappers with the expedition employed as 
engineers — 'Corporal Greenhill — Approbation of the services of the 
party— Triangulation of west coast of Scotland — Addiscombe — Expedi- 
tion to Spain — Character of the detachment that accompanied it — 
Passages ; action in front of San Sebastian — Ueinforccmeut to Spain — 
Final trial of pontoons — Mission to Constantinople • • . . 289 


Change in the dress — Increase of non-commissioned officers — Services of 
the detachment at Ametza Gana— Oriamendi — Desierto convent on the 
Nervion — Fuentarabia — Oyarzun — Aindoin — Miscellaneous employment 
of the detachment — Trigonometrical survey west coast of Scotland — 
Inspection at Woolwich by Lord Hill and Sir Hussey Vivian — Staff 
appointments — Labours of sergeant Lanyon — Staff-sergeants' accoutre- 
ments — Expedition to New Holland— Corporal Coles selected as the 
man Friday of his chief— Exploration from High Bluff Point to 
Hanover Uay ; difficulties and trials of the trip ; great thirst — Exertions 
and critical situation of Coles — His courageous bearing— Touching 
instance of devotion to his chief — Employments of the party — Explora- 
tion into the interior with Coles and private Mustard — Hardships in its 
prosecution — Threatened attack of the natives; return to the camp . 305 


Services of party in New Holland — Start for the interior — Labours of the 
expedition; corporal Auger — Captain Grey and corporal Coles expect 
an attack — Attitude of private Auger at the camp against the menace of 
the natives — Captain Grey and Coles attacked ; their critical situation : 
the chief wounded; devotion of Coles — Usefulness of Auger — Uenew 
the march ; Aiiger finds a singular ford— Discovers a cave with a sculp- 
tured face in it — Mustard traces the spoor of a (luadruped still unseen 
in New Holland — A sleep in the trees — Trials of the party — Primitive 
washing — Augi - the van of the adventurers — Humane attention of the 
Captain to Mustard ; reach Hanover Uay ; arrive at the Mauritius- 
Detachment in Spain — Attack on Orio — Usurvil; Oyarzun — Miscel- 
laneous employments of the party — Keinforcement to it ; Casa Aquirre 
— Orio — Secret mission to Muftagorri- Second visit to the same chief- 
Notice of corporal John Down — Bidasisoa — Triangulation of north of 



Scotland— AIko of the Frith of the Clyde— Insurrection in Canada; 
guard of honour to I,ord Durham— ('ompany inapected by the Governor- 
Oeneral on the plains of Ahmhani— Inspection at Niagara by Sir George 
Arthur— SorvicfH and movfini'nts of the company iu ("anada; attack at 
Hoauharnois — Submarine di'molition of wrecks near (Jravesend — V)x- 
pedient to prevent accident* by vessels fouling the diving-bell lighter — 
(Conduct of the sappers in the operations; exertions of sergeunt-major 
Jones — Fatal accident to a diver — Intrepidity of sergeants Koss and 
Young — Klasting the bow of the brig ' William,' by sergeant-major 
Jouea — Withdrawal of the sapperii fVoni the canal at Hythe . . 3IS 


Expe<lition to Western Australia under Captain Grey — Kxcursiou with 
Anger to the north of Perth — Search for Mr. Fdlis — Kxploration of 
shores from Frecmantlc — Hernier and Dorrc Islands ; want of water ; 
trials of the party — Water allowance reduced A lagoon discovered — 
Privations and hardships of the party — Return to Dernier Island for 
stores — Its altered appearance — Destruction of the dep6t of provisions 
— Consternation of Coles — Auger's example under the circumstances 
— Expedition makes for Swan River — Perilous landing at Gantheaume 
Hay — Overland journev to Perth ; straits of the adventurers — Auger 
searching for a missing man — Coles observer the natives ; arrange- 
ments to meet them —Water found by Auger — A spring discovered 
by Coles at Water Peak— Disaffection about long marches; forced 
journeys determined upon ; the two sappers and a few others accom- 
pany the Captain— Desperate hardships and fatigues; the last revolting 
resource of thirst — Kxtraordinary exertions of the travellers ; their suf- 
ferings from thirst ; water found— Appalling bivouac — Coles's agony 
and fortitude — Struggles of the adventurers; they at last reach Perth 
— Auger joins two expeditious in search of the slow walkers — Disposal 
of Coles and Augur 



Services of the detachment in Spain — Last party of the artillery on the 
survey— Survey of South Australia — Inspection at Lin-erick by Sir 
William Macbean — Triangulation of north of Scotland — Also of the 
Clyde — Pontoons by sergeant Hopkins — Augmentation of the corps — 
Also of the survey companies — Supernumerary rank annulled — Tithe 
surveys; quality of work executed on them by discharged sappers; 
efficient surveys of sergeant DouU — ^Increase of survey pay — Staff 
appointments on the survey — Responsibility of quartermaster-sergeant 
M'Kay — Colonel Colby's classes — Based upon particular attainments — 
iJisputed territory in the State of Maine — Movements and services of 
the party employed in its survey ; intrepidity of corporal M'Queen — 
Experiments with the diving-bell — Also with the voltaic battery — 
Improvement in the priming wires by Captain Saudham; sergeant- 


major Jones's waterproof compotiitlon and imitation fuaea — Demolition 
and removal of the wreck of the ' Royal George ' — Organization of 
detachment employed in tlie operation^ — Kmulntion of parties — Success 
of the divers ; lol)our» of the sappers — Diving-liell abandoned — Accident 
to private Hrabant — Fearlessness of corporal Harris in unloading 
gunpowder from the cylinders — Hazardous duly in soldering the load- 
ing-hole of the cylinder — First sapper helmet divers— Conduct and 
exertions of the detachment .141 


Return of the detachment from Spain — Its conduct during the war- 
Survey of the northern counties of England — Notice of sergeant Cotting- 
ham — Secondary triangulation of the north of Scotland— Increase to 
survey allowances — Augmentation to the survey companies — Renewal 
of survey of the disputed boundary in the state of Maine — Corporal 
Ilearnden at Sandhurst — Wreck of the ' Royal George ;' duties of the 
sappers in its removal — Exertions of sergeant-major Jones — The divers 
— An accident — Usefulness of the detachment engaged in the work — 
Hoat adventure at Spithead — Andrew Anderson — Thomas P. (,'ook — 
Transfer of detachment from the Mauritius to the Cape — Survey of La 
Caille's arc of meridian there — Detachment to Syria — Its active ser- 
vices, including capture of AcrL — Reinforcement to Syria . . , 



Syria— Landing at CaifFa ; Mount Camiel— Cave of Elijah ; epidemic— 
Colour-sergeant Black — Inspection at Ueirout by the Seraskier ; return 
of the detachment to England — Expedition to the Niger— Model farm — 
Gori — Fever sets in ; return of the expedition — Services of the sappers 
attached to it — Corporal Edmonds and the elephant — and the Princess 
— Staff-sergeant's undress — Staff appointments — Wreck of the ' Royal 
George ' — Sergeant Murch — Sapper-divers — Curiosities — Under-water 
pay ; means used to aid the divers — Speaking under water — Gallantry 
of private Skelton — Alarming accidents — Constitutional unfitness for 
diving — Uoundary survey in the state of Maine — Augmentation to corps 
for Ilermuda — Sandhurst; corporal Carlin's services — Quartermaster- 
sergeant Fraser — Intrepidity of privote Entwistle — Colonel Pasley — 
Efficiency of the corps — Its conduct, and impolicy of reducing its esta- 
blishment — Sir John Jones's opinion of the sappers — And also the Rev. 
G. R.Gleig's 



Party to Natal — The march— Action at Congella — Boers attack the camp 
— Then besiege it — Sortie on the Boers' trenches — Incidents — Privations 
— Conduct of the detachment ; courageous bearing of sergeant Young — 
Services of the party after hostilities had ceased— Detachment to the 



Falkland Islands — I,aiidiiig— Cliaraeter of the country — Services of the 
party — Its movements ; and amuEenicnts — -Professor Alry's opinion of 
the corps — Fire at Woolwich ; its consequences — Wreck of the ' Itoyal 
George' — Classification of the divers — Corporal Harris's exertions in 
removing the wreck of the ' Perdita ' mooring lighter — Assists an 
unsuccessful comrade — Difficulties in recovering the pig-iron ballast — 
Adventure with Mr. Cussell's lighter -Isolation of Jones at the bottom 
— Annoyed by the presence of a human body ; Harris, less sensitive, 
captures it — The keel — Accidents — Conflict between two rival divers — 
Conduct of the sappers employed in the operation — Demolition of 
beacons at Blythe Sand, Sheerness — -Testimonial to sergeant-major 
Jones for his services in connection with it 384 


Draft to Canada — ^Company recalled from thence — Its services and move- 
ments — Its character— Labours of colour-sergeant Lanyon— -Increase to 
Giljraltar — Reduction in the corps — Irish sun-ey completed; force 
employed iu its prosecution — Reasons for conducting it under military 
rule — Economy of superintendence by sappers — ^Their employmei'ts — 
Sergeants West, DouU, Spalding, Keville — Corporals George Newman, 
Andrew Duucan — Staff appointments io the survey companies — Dangers 
— Hardships — Average strength of sapper force employed — Casualties 
— Kindness of the Irifh — Gradual transfer of sappers for the English 
survey — Distribution ; Southampton ...... 



Falkland Islands ; services of the detachment there — Exploration trips — 
Seat of government changed — ^Tumer's stream — Bull-fight — Round 
Down Cliff, near Dover — Boundary line in North America — Sergeant- 
major Forbes — Operations for removing the wreck of the ' Royal 
George ' — Exertions of the party — Private Girvan — Sagacity of corporal 
Jones — Success of the divers — Exertions to recover the missing guns — 
Harris's uest — his district pardonably invaded — Wreck of the ' ISdgar,' 
and corporal Jones — Power of water to convey sound^iirvan at the 
' Ed ^ar ' — An accident — Cessation of the work — Conduct of the detach- 
ment employed in it — Sir George Murray's commendation — Longitude 
of Valentia— Rebellion in Ireland — Colour-sergeant Lanyon explores 
the passages under Dublin Castle — Fever at Bermuda —Burning of the 
' Missouri ' steamer at Gibraltar — Hong-Kong — Inspection at Woolwich 
by the Grand Duke Michael of Russia — Percussion carbine and 
accoutrements 412 


Remeasnrement of La Caille's arc at the Cape — Reconnoitring excursion 
of sergeant Hemming — Falkland Islands — Draft to Bermuda — Ingpec- 


lion at Gibraltar by General Sir Robert Wilson — Final operations 
against the ' Koyal George' — and the 'Edgar' — Discovery of the 
amidships — incident connected with it — Combats with Crustacea — 
Success of corporal Jones — Injury to a diver — Private Skelton drowned 
—Conduct of the detachment employed in the work — Submarine repairs 
to the ' Tay ' steamer at Bermuda by corporal Harris — Wideninff and 
deepening the ship channel at St. George's — Accidents from mining 
experiments at Chatham — Notice of corporal John Wood — Inspection 
at Hong Kong by Major-General D'Aguilar 



Sheerness — Increase to the corps at the Cape — Survey of Windsor — Skill 
of privates Holland and Hogan as draughtsmen — Etchings by the latter 
for the Queen and Prince Albert — Unique idea of the use o.' a bullet — 
^Inspection at Gibraltar by Sir Robert Wilson — Falkland Islands — 
Discharges on the survey duty during the railway mania . . . 444 


Boundary surveys in North America — Duties of the party engaged in 
it — Mode of ascertaining loiigitudes — Trials of the party ; Owen 
Lonergan — The sixty-four mile line — Official recognition of services of 
the party — Sergeant James Mulligan — Kaffir war — (Corporal R. Castle- 
dine — Parties employed at the guns — Graham's Town — Fort Brown — 
Patrols — Bridge over the Fish River— Field services with the second 
division — Dodo's kraal — Waterloo Bay — Field services with the first 
division— Patrol under Lieutenant Bourchier — Mutiny of the Swellan- 
dam native infantry — Conduct of corps in the campaign — Alterations 
in the dress — Drainage of Windsor — Detachmfut to Hudson's Bay 
— Its organization — Journey to Fort Garry— Sergeant Philip Clark — 
Private li. Penton — Corporal T. Macpherson — Lower Fort Garry — 
Particular services — Return to England ...... 



Exploration survey for a railway in North America— Services of the party 
employed on it— Personal services of sergeant A. Calder — Augmenta- 
tion to the corps — Reinforcement to China — Recall of a company from 
Bermuda — Royal presents to the reading-room at Southampton — 
Inspection at Gibraltar by Sir Robert Wilson — Third company placed 
at the disposal of the Board of Works in Ireland — Sergeant J. Baston — 
Services of the company — Distinguished from the works controlled by 
the civilians -Gallantry of private G. Windsor— Coolness of private E. 
West— Intrepid and useful services of private William Baker — Survey 
of Southampton, and its incomparable map . . . . . 





Detachments in South Australia— Corporal W. Forrest— Augmentation 
to the corps— Destruction of the Bogue and other forts— Services of 
the detachment at Canton— First detachment to New Zealand— Survey 
of Dover and Winchelsea— Also of Pembroke- Flattering allusion to 
the corps— Sir John Richardson's expedition to the Arctic regions- 
Cedar Ifake— Private Geddcs's encounter with the bear— Winter quar- 
ters at Cumberland House— Road-making in Zetland— Active services 
at the Cape — Company to Portsmouth 



VOL. I. 



L Unifor . 

178fi . To face Title. 

11. Working-dress 

1786 . . . . 


III. Uniform . 

1787 . 


IV. Working-4res8 

1787 . 


V. Uniform . 

1792 . 


VI. Working-dress 

1794 . 


VII. Working-dress 

1795 . 


VIII. Uniform . 

1797 . 


IX. Uniform . 

1802 . 


X. Working-dress 

. 1813 . 


XI. Uniform . 

1813 . 


XII. Uniform . 

. 1823 . 

. 258 

XIII. Uniform and working-dress 

. 1825 . 

. 262 

XIV. Uniform . 

• • 

. 1832 . 

. 287 

XV. Unifo.TO . 

• • 

. 1843 . 

. 429 

who w( 


XVI. Uniform . 
XVII. Working-dress 



fare TilU: 




Origin of Corps — Its establishment and pay — Engineers to command it— Its 
designation — Working pay — Recruiting — Dismissal of civil artificers — 
Names of officers — Non-commissioned officers— First augmentation — Conse- 
quent promotions— Names of other officers joined— King's Bastion— Second 

Before the year 1772, the works at Gibraltar were mainly 

executed by civil mechanics from the Continent and England, 

who were not engaged for any term of years, but were hired 

like ordinary artificers, and could leave the Rock whenever 

they felt disposed. Not being amenable to military discipline, 

they were indolent and disorderly, and wholly regardless of 

authority. The only means of punishing them was by repri- 

I mand, suspension, or dismissal, and these means were quite 

ineffectual to check irregularities. The dismissal of mechanics 

land replacing them by others was always attended with con- 

jsidcrable inconvenience and expense, and often failed to secure 

Ian equivalent advantage. Consequently, the works progressed 

very slowly, imposing much additional trouble and anxiety upon 

[the officers. Even the better class of artificers — locally termed 

' guinea men " from their high, wages — who had something at 

jstake in their situations, could not be relied upon. It therefore 

VOL. I. a 




became necessary that steps should be taken to put a stop to 
tiC evil, and to secure the services of a sufficient number of 
stei;dy, obedient nuiduinics, upon whom dependence could, at 
all tih'es, be placed, for the pro])er execution of the works. 

Witii this view, Lieutenant-C'olonel William Green, the chief 
engince; at the fortress, sujxgested the formation of a comjjany 
of inilkary artificers as the only cxjjedient. Of the value of 
this suggestion some experience had been derived, from the 
occasional occu[)ation on the works, of mechanics belonging to 
the different regiments in garrison. Indeed, ever since the 
taking of Gibraltar, in 1704, soldiei-s had so been employed, 
particularly artillerymen, whose services to the fortress were 
always found to be beneficial. There was every reason, therefore, 
to expect that, ' hen the department became entirely military 
in its character, corresponding results on a large scale would 
ensue. Besides which it was considered, tluit the employment 
of a military company on the works, organized expressly for 
the purpose, would produce a great saving of expense to the 
public ; and also, that the men would be ready to participate 
in any military operation for the defence of the i)lacc, either 
as artificers or soldiers, should our relations with othci i cuntrles 
render it desirable. 

Influenced by these considerations, ('olonel Green submitted 
the suggestion to the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of 
Gibraltar. Too well aware themselves of the disadvantaires 
of the system of civil labour in carrying on the works of the 
fortress, they were favourable to the trial of any ex])erimcnt 
that promised success ; and in recommending the plan to the 
attention of the Secretary of State, they ex])resscd their decided 
opinion that many advantages would certainly arise to the 
service and the fortress by its adoption. The royal consent was 
accordingly given to the measure in a Warrant, under the sign 
manual, dated Cth March, 1772 ; and thus originated the corps, 
whose history is attempted to be traced in these pages. 

The Warrant authorized the raising and forming of a 
company of artificers to consist of the following lumibers and 
ranks, with the regimental pay annexed to each rank : — 

















1 Sergeant and as adjutant ■ . . . . 

.3 Sergeants, each 

3 Corporals „ 

(id Privates, or working men skilled in the follow- 
ing trades: — Stone-cutters, masons, miners, 
lime-burners, carpenters, smiths, gardeners, 
or wheelers, each 

1 Drummer ....... 

C8 Total. 

And officers of the corps of engineers wove appointed to 
command this now body, to whicli was given tlie name of " The 
Soldier-Artificer Company." ^ 

Each non-commissioned officer and man was to receive as a 
remuneration for his labour a sura not exceeding two reals'* 
a day in addition to his regimental pay ; but this extra allow- 
ance was only to be given for such days as he was actually 
employed on the works. 

The recruiting for the company was a service of but little 
difficulty, as permission was granted to fill it with men from the 

' The rank of sergeant and adjutant — an odd combination certainly — was 
not adopted. The senior non-commissioned officer was styled sergeant-major. 
The authority for this are the muster rolls and returns of the company. But 
it is not a little remarkable that, in opposition to the fact, evidence should 
exist of tlie best kind for veracity, to oppose the averment. The error appears 
on a tablet built in Charles the Fifth's wall adjoining Ilargrave's parade at 
Gibraltar, to the memory of the widow of the first sergeant-major of the corps. 
Thus runs the epitaph : — 

To the Memory of Martha, wife of 

Thomas Biudgks, Sergeant, and as Adjutant 

to His Majesty's Artificers' Company. 

She departed this life, 4th February, 1773, 

Aged 38 years. 

A iiuiro loving wife or friend sincere 

Never will be burled lure— 
Chftritiible sbc was to all, 

Altho' her Income It was small. 

Excuse the stanza. Perhaps the sergeant-major was a tetchy man, obstinate 
I in maintaining his rights, and took this private opportunity of asserting his 
; warranted rank and publishing the military anomaly in imperishable marble. 

" The Warrant does not designate the company by such a title. It is there 
j called " The Military Company of .Artificers." How the change took place, 
I does not appear. 

•" A real is eiiual to 4^1. English, 



regiments then serving in the garrison ; and although the 
company was restricted to the taking of jjroperly qualified 
mechanics of good character, yet, at the end of the year, after 
supplying the places occasioned by casualties, tlier? were only 
eighteen rank and file wanting to complete. As vacancies 
occurred, such of the soldiers of the garrison as came up to 
the established criteria, and wished to be transferred into the 
company, were allowed the indulgence ; and this mode was the 
only one followed, for filling up the soldier-artificers, for many 
years after their formation. 

The whole of the civil mechanics were not discharged from 
the department on account of this measure. Such of them were 
retained as were considered, from their qualifications and con- 
duct, to be useful in the fortress, and they were j)laced under 
the superintendence of the non-commissioned officers of the 
company, who were appointed foremen of the different trades. 
The foreign .artificers were, with few exceptions, dismissed ; and 
twenty English " contracted artificers," or " guinea men," were 
sent home. Previously, however, such of the good men of the 
number as were willing to bo " entertained " in the company 
were permitted the option of enlisting, but none availed them- 
selves of the offer. 

The officers of engineers who were first attached to the 
company were the following : — 

Lieutenant-Colonel William Green, captain. 
Captain John Phipps, Esq. 

Capt.-Lieut. and Captain Theophilus Lvfauce, Esq. 
Lieutenant John Evelegh. 

And they were desired to take under their command and in- 
spection the non-commissioned officers and private men of the 
company, and to pay particular attention to their good conduct 
and regular behaviour.* 

* The order upon this subject is given at length, as it touches upon other 
matters besides the discipline of the company. 

Chief Engineer's Orders, Gibraltar, Slst Afay, 1772. 
" By the Governor's orders of the 20th May, the company of soldier-arti- 
ficers now raising and forming under the command of the Chief Engineer as 
captain, Captain Phipps, Captain-Lieutenant Lefance, and Lieutenant Evelegh, 

ched to the 

;hes upon other 


On the 30th June, the date on which the company was first 
mustered, the non-commissioned officers were — 

Scrgeant-inajor . . Thomas Hridges,* 

Sergeant David Youup, Carpciitcr. 

Sergeant Henry Ince, Mliiir. 

To these were added, on the 31st December — 

Sergeant Edward Macdonald. 

Corporal Robert Hlair, and 

(lorporal Peter Fraser. 

and soon afterwards — 

Corporal Robert Brand, 

who completed the non-commissioned officers to the full number 
authoriijed by the warrant. 

are appointed ofiBcers to the said company, and are, therefore, conformable to 
their respective ranks, henceforth to take under their command the conduct 
and inspection of the non-commissioned officers and private men of the said 
company, and to pay all sort of military attentions to their good order and 
regular behaviour, according to the rules and discipline of war ;" also to the 
particular standing orders, as well as to the accustomary regulations of the 
garrison relative to all the required and expected duties of a soldier and an 
artificer, both when on, as well as when off, duty. Captain Phipps is also 
appointed to keep the accounts and to see the conipauy duly paid their full 
military subsistence. The company to be paid conformable to His Majesty's 
Warrant dated March Cth, 1773, upon the same footing as the rest of the 
troops in garrison, viz., at seventy pence sterling the Mexico or Cobb, agree- 
able to which, the non-commissioned officers and men are to be paid weekly as 
follows, the deduction for the surgeon excepted : — 

Sergeant-major 5 dollars, 3 reals, S| quarts. 

Sergeants — each 2 „ 5 „ 9^ „ 

Corporals — each 2 „ „ 12^ „ 

Privates and drummer — each . 1 „ 4 „ 

One-halfpenny sterling a-week to be stopped from each private and drummer 
for the surgeon, and the non-commissioned officers to be stopped in proportion 
to their respective pays." 

^ The more particular duties of the Sergeant-major, as described in the Chief 
Knginecr's Order of alst May, 1772, were " to carry all the general orders to 
the Chief Engineer, and the officers of the company, through the means of the 
other sergeants ; also to make known the general ordere to the rest of the non- 
commissioned officers and private men." These he was required to attend to, 
" in lieu of an adjutant." By the royal warrant, he should have been appiinted 
to that rank, and not designated " sergeant-major." No reason can be traced 

° No provision wna maJc tiiia year fur cxteiidliiR the Mutiny Act to the company; nor, 
Indi'ed, wna It noticed in any subsequent Art till 17SS, wlicn its introduction tnive rise to mucli 
discussion in the House of t'ummons. The Idea of subjecting urliflcerB to martial law was 
attackeil with satirical bitterness by the eloquent Sheridan. 

6 HIS'l'OIlY OF THE [1774. 

At the time the aoldier-artificers were raised, the extensive 
works ordered to be executed by his Majesty in October, 1770, 
were in progress, and furnished an excellent opportunity for 
testing their capabilities and merits. The advantage of the 
change, and the consequent benefits accruing to the fortress, 
were soon apparent. Scarcely had the company l)een in 
existence a year, before Major-General Boyd, the Lieutenant- 
Governor, impressed with the conviction of its usefulness, 
represented, in several communications to Lord Rochford, the 
Secretary of State, the expediency of augmenting it ; and he 
was the more urgent for its sanction as the new works in hand 
— which were absolutely essential for the defence of the place — 
required to be hastened with all possible despatch. The recom. 
mendation, coming from so high an authority, met with ready 
attention, and a Warrant dated 25th March, 1774, was accord- 
ingly issued for adding twenty-five men to the company. Its 
establishment was then fixed as follows : — 

Sergeant-major 1 

Sergeants 4 

Corporals 4 

Drummer 1 

Private artificers .... 83 

Total 93 

To the former list of non-commissioned oflScers were now 

added — 

John Hichmoiid, sergeant. 
John Urown," corporal. 

Ensign \Yilliam Skinner joined the company 2()th May, and 
Ensign William Booth 23rd June. 

for altering the title. The first adjutant was an officei- of engineers — Lieu- 
tenant Evelegh. He was appointed l.^th June, 1773. Bridges enlisted into 
the ."iOth regiment in 17.'jl, from which he was transferred to the corps as 
Sergeant-major, and being reduced during the siege (28th September, 1781), 
was discharged from the company 10th October, 1781. 

" In Hay's ' Western Uarbary,' chap, x., Murray's edit., there is a very 
pleasing anecdote of the " half-Irish Sultan," Alulai Yezeed, in which the name 
of Brown of the Royal Sappers and Miners, properlv Soldier-Artificers, is 
introduced. To controvert a particular point to which .t refers, the anecdote, 
in an abridged form, is subjoined. 

Sidi Mahomed, soon after his elevation to the throne of Morocco, about the 



3 wci'o now 

No sooner was the company completed to its new establisli- 
nient than the enji^incers proceeded with greater spirit in the 
erection of the King's Ristion, the foundation stone of which 
was hiid in 1773 by General Boyd.' This work, which was of 
uuit(!rial consequence for the aifety of the fortress, caused the 
(ieneral much concern, and he employed his best efforts for its 

Bcco, about the 

middle of the last century, was desirous of completing the defences of Fez, 
and linowing the superiority of the Knglish in engineering, he applied to the 
Hritlsh Government for the aid of some person skilled in the art. The re()uest 
was acceded to, ond an experienced sergeant of the Sappers and Miners having 
lieen selected as a fit person, was placed at the disposal of his Majesty. Sidi 
Mahomed received him with much kindness, and allotted a suitable house for 
his reception. The sergeant continued in the service of the Sultan for some 
time after he had completed the works at Fez, and at length died, leaving his 
wife without issue. After his interment, the widow, who was a pretty Irish- 
woman, sought an interview with the Sultan, in order to obtain a pension and 
the means of returning to her own country. His Majesty was much struck by 
her fair and comely appearance, treated her with condescension and benevo- 
lence, and expressed in endearing overtures his attachment to her. Under no 
promises of future greatness could she be iu\; ueed to relinquish the faith of her 
fathers i'or the creed of Islam, and to take an exalted station in the imperial 
baicni. Sidi Mahomed, old as he was, was too much fascinated to yield so 
choice a prize on a mere (|uestion of belief, and making the fullest sacrifices 
to satisfy her religious scruples, the poor, friendless, Irish widow, became the 
Sultana of Morocco! 

Corporal Hrowii, afterwards promoted to be sergeant, is the non-commis- 
sioned otficer alluded to. He was a mason by trade, and joining the artificers 
on the 2nd January, 1773, he seemingly soon acquired the reputation of being 
an able foreman and an indispensable man. It was in 177() he was sent to 
Fez, not in the middle of the century us stated in the anecdote, and he died 
tliere early in 1781. That year, or probably later, Widow Urown became the 
Sullaiia of Sidi Mahomet, and Mulai Yezeed, the reputed son of the widow by 
tlie Sultan, vns t/u-n 31 years old ! The age of Mulai may be glamcj from Hay's 
tale, but more directly seen in Dr. Lempriere's ' Journey through the liarbary 
Stales.' According to the latter author, who «as at Tctuan in 171t(), Mulai 
was the " ofl'spring of an English renegado," and then about 40 years of age. 
The Sultan died at a patriarchal age in 17'J0, and Mulai Yezeed succeeded him. 

'" General Boyd, attended by General Green, the chief engineer, and many 
ollicers of the garrison, laid the foundation stone of this bastion, with the 
lereniony usual on such occasions. When he had finished it, he made this 
remarkable speech. "This is the first stone of a work which I name the 
King's bastion ; may it be as ijalUmthj dcfciuled, as I know it will be abl;/ 
exccidcd ; and may / live to see it resist the united efforts of France and tipain." — 
Driukwater's Siege of Gibraltar, p. 290, 1st edit. The desire of the worthy 
general was realized. He not only lived to see what he wished, but materially 
to assist in the operations of the siege. 




coinplctioii." But, unavoidable delay in some official arrange- 
ments at home, coupled with a little niisunderst^xnding and the 
loss of many civil mi.chanics, greatly retarded the work. 

This led General lioyd in 1775 to apply for another aug- 
mentation to the soldier-artificers, which was the more necessary 
as three regiments, fumishing a number of mechanics for the 
fortifications, were about to leave the Rock ; and also as the 
foreign artificers— several of whom had lx?en nj-engaged since 
the pressure of the works — were like birds of passage, aban- 
doning the fortress when they pleased. This the soldier- 
artificers could not do. To th-'ir attention and assiduity, there- 
fore, the progress of the bastion and other works of the garrison 
were mainly attributable ; and General Boyd, in a letter to 
Lord Rochford, dated 5th October, 1775, gave them full credit 
for their services. " We can," wrote the General, " depend 
only upon the artificer company for constant work, and on 
soldiers occasionally. Had it not been for the artificer com- 
pany, we should not have made half the progress in the King's 
Bastion, as well as in the other works of the garrison." 

On the 16th January, 1776, His Majesty sanctioned an addi- 
tion to the company of one sergeant, one corporal, one drummer, 
and twenty privates, all masons, who were to be reduced again 
when the Hanoverian troops should leave the fortress.* With 

" To carry on the work with vigour, an opening was made in the sea-line, 
which, as long as it continued so, made the fortress defenceless in that part. 
Similar openings were made in the line some years before by a storm, which, 
being observed by Monsieur Crillon, who commanded at St. lioque, he pro- 
posed a scheme for an attempt on the Rock. Remembering this, the General 
always kept an anxious eye upon the gap ; but he concealed his fears, lest they 
should fill the people with alarm, and the French or Spaniards with notions of 
invasion. He would not post any additional guards or picquets there for its 
protection, but gave private directions that all the guns and howitzers that 
could be brought int( position in that part should be attended to. He, how- 
ever, did not conceal bis uneasiness from the Secretary of State ; and in urging 
upon Lord Rochford the necessity for his being furnished with the means for 
completing the bastion, he quaintly remarked, " there is an idea of glory, my 
lord, in the thought of being killed in defending a breach made by the enemy, 
but to be knocked o' th' head in the defence of one of our own making would 
be a ridiculous death." 

" When the Hanoverian troops left Gibraltar, the company had the best 
character for efficiency and utility, and its numbers therefore were not reduced. 


1 arrange- 
<j and the 

ther aug- 

C3 for the 

so as the 
figed since 
>ge, aban- 
lity, there- 
le garrison 

letter to 
full credit 

" depend 
:, and on 
ficer com- 
:he King's 

d an addi- 


iced again 

is." With 

the sea-line, 
in that part, 
torm, which, 
lue, he pro- 

the General 
\TB, lest they 
h notions of 
there for its 
witzers that 
. He, how- 
id in urging 
le means for 
f glory, niy 

the enemy, 
iking would 

ad the best 
lot reduced. 



this increase the company consisted of IIG non-commissioned 
officers and men. 

Steadily the works advanced ; soon the King's Bastion '" was 
finished, and the fortress was now in such a state of defence 
as greatly to alleviate the apprehension, which, a few years 
Iwfore, caused General Boyd so much anxiety. Though not 
exactly all that could be desired to oppose the onslaught of a 
determined and daring adversary, it was yet csipable of a long 
and obstinate resistance ; and, from the political phases of the 
period, it did not seem at all unlikely that its strength would 
soon be tried, and the prowess and fortitude of the garrison 

'" At this bastion the company worked, by express orders, from gun-fire in 
the morning to gun-flre in the evening, as also on Sundays. All the work was 
of cut stone, and skilfully executed. A model of it, ex(|uisitely wrought in 
polished stone, is in the Rotunda at Woolwich. It formerly belonged to 
George III. In 1820, George IV. presented it to the Royal Military Reposi- 




177U— 1782. 

.Ii'iildiisy (if Spain— Duclarcs war with Knplaiul— Strt'jif^tli of tlic (pirrisoii at 
Gibraltar — l'rc|iaratii)ti8 for (k'l'i'iice and employ iiu'iit of tliu company- Sic(;i' 
commenecMl - Privations of the garrison — (Jranil sortie and eonduet of the 
I'omimny — Its siihseciuent exertions — Origin of the subterranean galli.ries — 
Their extraordinary prosecution — Princess Anne's battery — Third angnient- 
utioi) — Names of uou-cunimissioued otiieers. 

GlnUALTAli, ever since its capture by the English in 1704, luul 
been a source of much jealousy and mioasiness to Spain, and 
her desire to restore it to her dominions was manifested in the 
frecpient attempts she made witli that view. Invariably .she was 
reiwlled by the indomitable bravery of the garrison ; 1)iit a 
slave to her jjurposc, she did not desist from her efforts, and in 
the absence of any real occasion for disagreement with Kngland, 
scrupled not to create one, in order that she might attack, and 
if possible, regain the fortrcs.s. 

A favourable opportunity for the purpose at length arrived. 
Soon i''t't( r the convention of Saratoga in 1777, the Americans 
entered nito an alliance with France, which was the cause of a 
rnpti.-e between the latter nation and (Jreat Britain. Hos- 
tilities had been carried on for six months, when Spain insinu- 
ated herself into the dispute under pacific pretensions. Her 
proposals, however, were of such a nature as rendered it imjms- 
sible for the British Government to accept them without lessen- 
ing the national honour ; and being rejected, the refusal was 
made the pretext for war. It was accordingly declared by 
Spain on the 16th June, and her eager attention was at once 
turned to Gibraltar. On the 21st of the same month she took 
the first step of a hostile nature, by closing the comumnication 
between Spain and the fortress. 

1 1770. 


At this time the jjtirrison consisted of mi imriy of 5,382 
oHiecrs and men nndtn* (ionenil lOliott. Lient.-Ocnijrul Boyd 
was second in command. Of this force tlie enifineers and 
artificers amounted to the followiny mnubers under (Jolonei 
Ureen : — 

OtRccrs 8 

t^iTgeanta f> 

DniimntTg i 

liunk uiid Fill' .... lOO ■ 

Total . . . \U2 

No particular demonstration on the part of the Spaniards 
innnediately followed tht; closing of the connniinici'.tion ; but 
(lencral Kliott, anticipating an early attack upon the Kock, 
made arrangements to meet it. All was activity and prepara- 
tion within the fortress ; and the engineers with the artificers 
were constantly occupied in strengthening the defences. For 
better accomplishing this paramount service, the company was 
divided into three portions on the 23rd August, and directed to 
instruct the line workmen in the duties required of them. To 
prevent misunderstanding with regard to the line non-commis- 
sioned officers — who might under certain circumstances become 
litigious — the C!liief Engineer issued orders to the effect, that 
all such soldiers coming into the king's works, were to take 
directions from the non-commissioned officers of tlie company in 
the execution of their professional duty.' 

On the 12th September, General Eliott commenced opera- 
tions by opening a fire on the enemy, which was so unexpected, 
that the latter were surprised and dispersed. On recovering 
from the panic, they scarcely ventured, or indeed cared, to reta- 
liate ; for their object obviously was, not to subject themselves 
to a costly expenditure of ammunition, shot, &c., but to distress 
the garrison by famine, and thereby obtain an easy surrender. 
In this, however, they were disiippointed ; for the enduring 

' The compiiiiy wanted two privates to complete. 

" As foreseen by the Chief Engineer, disputes soon arose between the non- 
eon)-nissioned olficers of the company and the line, with regard to superintend- 
ence and direction. The fact having come to the Hrigadier's knowledge, he 
renewed, on the 10th July, 1781, his former order in a more imiHirative tone. 




hardihood of the garrison, and the occasional arrival of relief, 
frustrated their object, and compelled the Spaniards to have 
recourse to the more expensive and diHicult method of besieging 
the place.'' 

At this period the privations of the soldiere in the fortress 
were of so severe a nature, that many of them were constrained 
to seek expedients from unusual resources to supply their 
wants ; and in this way, thistles, dandelion, and other wild 
herbs, the produce of a barren rock, were used to satisfy their 
cravings. The following enumeration of some of the necessaries 
of life, with ineir prices affixed, will afford an idea of the extent 
of the scarcity : — 

Mutton or beef . 
Salt beef or pork 
Biscuit crumbs . 

s. d. s. 
2 6 to 3 
1 to I 
10 to 1 

Milk and water 1 


A smaU cabbage .... 1 

Asmallbunchof outward leaves 

6 per lb. sometimes liighcr. 

3 per lb. 

per lb. 

3 a pint. 

6 each. 



Thus curtailed in their provisions, the wonder is, that the 
men were at all capable of supporting life, and keeping their 
opponents in check. But notwithstanding this embarrassing 
privation, !.' eir energy and courage were by no means weakened, 
nor their spirit and ardour depressed. 

In November, 1781, the Spaniards were very zealous in com- 
pleting their defences ; so much so that towards the latter part 
of the month their batteries presented an ajjpearance at once 
stupendous and formidable. This proud bulwark naturally 
arrested the Governor's attention, and as naturally engendered 
the determination to ..^sault and destroy it. On the 26th 
November, he desired a selection to be made from the troops 
for this purpose. To each of the right and centre columns a 
detachment of the company — in all twelve non-commissioned 
officers as overseers, and forty privates — was attached, under 

^ The strength of the company, including officers, wlien the provision sup- 
plies arrived, under Admiral liodney, in February, 1780, and again under 
Admiral Darby, in April, 1781, was, on both occasions, stated to be 124. See 
' An authentic and accurate Journal of the late Siege of Gibraltar,' pp. 22, 170. 





Lieutena.its Skinner and Johnson of the Engineers ; and 160 
working men from the line were directed to assist them. To 
the left column a hundred sailors were told off to do the duty 
of pioneers. The soldier-artificers were supplied with hammers, 
axes, crow-biirs, fire-f^ggots, and other burning materials. 
Upon the setting of the moon at three o'clock on the morning 
of the 27th November the sortie was made. The moment 
Titut.-Colonel Hugo, who had charge '^f the right column, 
took possession of the parallelj Lieutenant Johnson with the 
artificers and pioneers commenced with great promptitude and 
dexterity to dismantle the works. Similar daring efforts suc- 
ceeded the rush of Lieutenant Skinner's artificers and workmen 
into the St. Carlo's Battery with the column of Lie :it. -Colonel 
Dachenhausen ; but the number of the soldier-artificers attached 
to the sortie, whose ardour and labours were everywhere ap- 
parent, being both inconsiderable and insufficiei-t to effect the 
demolition with the expedition required, the Governor sent 
back to the garrison for the remainder of the company to come 
and assist in the operation.* Hurrying to the spot to share in 
the struggle, they were soon distributed through the batteries : 
and the efficiency of their exertions was sensibly seen, in the 
rapidity with which the works were razed and in flames. Only 
one of the company was wounded.' 

General Eliott in his despatch on this sortie, observes, " The 
pioneers," meaning artificers, " and artillerists, made wonderful 
exertions, and s])read C 'v fire with such amazii.g rapidity, that 
in half an hour, two mortar batteries of ten 13-inch mortars, 
and three batteries of six guns each, with all the lines of 
approach, communication, traverses, &c. were in flames and 
reduced to ashes. Their mortars and cannon were spiked, and 

Captain Luttrell, in some remarks in the House of Commons in 1788, 
relative to the expediency of raising a corps of military artificers, stated, 
" that at Gibraltar, where a similar body had been kept up during the siege, 
they hud been of infinite serv'ice. When our troops had, in a sortie, possessed 
themselves of some of the enemy's works, they could not destroy them until 
they had sent back to the gai'rison for ttie corps of artificers, who soon demo- 
lished them." — Gent. Mag. 58, part 2, 1788. 
' London Ganette, 12,25(i. 2,') to 29 December, 1781. 




their beds, carriages, and platforms destroyed. Tiieir maga- 
zines blew up one after another, as the fire approached 
them." « 

Shortly after the sortie the repairs to the defences at the 
north front and other works of the fortress, found full employ- 
ment for the company. Jjcisure could not be permitted, and 
the necessary intervals of rest were frequently ii'terrupted by 
demands for their assistance, particularly i)< cais ming the 
batteries at Willis's.' Sickness also set ii ; :oi;t ? time; 
neai'ly 700 of the garrison were in hospital; the tvotii ng ;)arties 
were curtailed ; and officers' servants and others, unused to 
hard labour and unskilled in the usf, of tools, were sent to 
the works to lessen the fatigue to 'fhi>:h their le.-s-favoured 
comrades were constantly subjected. Much extra duty and 
exertion were thus necessarily thrown upon the comj)any, and 
though frequently exposed to imminent danger, they worked, 
both by night and day, with cheerfulness and zeal. In the 
sickness that prevailed, they did not share so much as might be 
supposed from the laborious nature of their duties, sixteen only 
l)(>ing returned sick, leaving eighty-one available for the service 
of the works. 

Oil a fine day in May 1782, the Governor, attended by the 
Chief Engineer and staff, made an inspection of the batteries " I 
the north front. Great havoc had been made in some of x\., )r 
by the enemy's fire; and for the i)resent they were aband . ' 
whilst the artificers were restoring them. M»»ditating for a i'.'; 
moments over the ruins, he siiid al<r I, "1 will give a thousand 
dollars to any one who can suggest how I am to jret ;> flanking 

fire upon the enemy's works." A pause followed '' 



exclamation, when sergeant-major Ince of the conq)ai._,, who 
was in attendance upon the Chief Engineer, stepped forward 
and suggested the idea of forming galleries in the rock to effect 

" Loudon Gazette, \2,2M. 25 to 29 December, 1781. 

" To nairaie the difi'ercnt services performed by the company dri : the 
siege, would not only be tedious, but necessarily incomplete, from ,■■ 'i /'' i 
record of them beiug preserved. A reference, however, to ' DruiKv, ;,'. 'i 
History,' though particularizatiou is not even there attempted, will aiicii a 
tolerable idea of their labouiH. 





the desired object. The General at once saw the propriety of 
the scher-", and directed it to be carried into execution." 

Upon orders being issued by the Cliief Engineer, twelve good 
miners of the company were selected for this novel and difficult 
service, and sergeant-major Ince was nominated to take the 
executive direction of the work. On the 25th of May, he com- 
menced to mine a gallery from a plac« above Farringdon's 
Battery (\Villis'), to comumnicate, through the rock, to the 
notch or projection in the scarp under the Royal Battery. The 
gallery was to be six feel, high and six feet wide. The success- 
ful pri'.gress of this preliminary work was followed by a desire 
to extend the excavation from the cave at the liead of the 
King's lines, to the cave at the end of the Queen's linos, of tiie 
same dimensions as the former gallery. A body of well- 
instructed miners was expressly appointed for the duty," and on 

" Whetlier the sergeant-major obvainett the i'lousand dollars a:: i douceur 
from the General u a <iuestion never likely to lie satisfactorily answered. The 
probability is, that he did not receive the reward for his suggestion in this 
form, but some daily allowance commensurate with his skill and the import- 
ance of tlie duty. 1 was informed by flie late Quarter-master-sergeant Hritton 
Francis, who possessed a remarkable memory, and whose father was in the 
company before liim, that Ince contracted for the work, and— such was the 
story current in his day — received f<U" all the excavations, one guinea per 
running foot I Judging from an expiession iu a letter from the Duke of Kich- 
niond to Captain Evelegh, the Commanding Engir.>.>.i at 'libraltar, dated 
4th August, 1784, this tradition is an extravagai't exaggeration. His Grace 
observes, " I am told tlat the excavation of the galleries is now constructed 
for, all expanses included, at one rial per foot ci.Iie ;" and he adds, " I am 
very glad to find that a work which promises to add such effectual defences 
to the place, can be carried on at so cheap a rate ; aiid I make no doubt, that 
great improvements will still be made by the Governor in this system of 
defences and lodgment for stores and troojj^ under the rock." 

° The (;hief Engineer's orders for the performance of this service were as 
lullows; — " 22nd May, 1782. A gallery 6 feet high, nndfj feet wide, through 
the rock, leading towards the notch Tiearly under the Itoyal liattery, to com- 
municate with a proposed battery to be established at the said notch, is 
inmiediately to be undertaken ...ui commenced upon by 12 miners, under the 
executive direction of sergeant-major Ince." Again: " !Jth July, 1782. A 
gallery of commuuicatiou, G feet G inches high, and (i feet w idc, through the 
intermediate rock, between the cave at the head of the King's lines, and the 
cave near the west end of the Queen's lines, is forthwith to be commenced 
upon by a body of m.ners and labourers ex))ressly appointed for that service." 
— See also ' Drinkwater's Siege,' Murray's edit., 1840, pp 112 and 11". 




the 6th July, they began this new subterranean passage. On 
the 15th, the first " embrasure was opened in the face of the 
rock communicating with the gallery above Farringdon's." To 
effect this, " the mine was loaded with an unusual quantity of 
powder, and the explosion was so amazingly loud, that almost 
whole of the enemy's camp turned out at the report : but 

it," adds the chronicler, " must their surprise have been, 
when they observed whence the smoke issued !" '" The gallery 
was now widened to admit of the placement of a gun with 
sufficient room for its recoil, and when finished, a 24-pounder 
was mounted in it." Before the ensuing September, five heavy 
guns were placed in the gallery ; and in little more than twelve 
months from the day it was commenced, it was pushed to the 
notch, where a battery, as originally proposed, was afterwards 
established and distinguished, on account of its extensive 
capacity, by the name of " St. George's Hall." '* 

At Princess Anne's Battery (Willis'), on the 11th June, a 
shell from the enemy fell through one of the magazines, and, 
bursting, the powder instantly ignitet and blew up. The whole 
rock shook with the violence of the explosion, which, tearing 
up the magazine, threw its massive fragments to an almost 
incredible distance into the sea. Throe merlons on the west flank 
of the battery, with several men who had run behind them for 
shelter, were blown into the Prince's lines beneath, which, with the 
Queen's lower down the rock, were almost filled with the rubbish 
ejected from the upper Imttery, es also with men dreadfully 
scorched and mangled. The loss among the workmen was very 

'° ' Driiikwater's Siege,' Murray's edit., 184C, p. 118. 

" Driiikwator observes, page 118, that "the original intention of tliis 
opening was to communicate air to tlie workmen, who, before, were almost 
suffocated with the smoke which remained after blowing the different mines j 
but on examining the aperture more closely, an idea was conceived of mount- 
ing a gun to bear on all the enemy's batteries, excepting Fort Harbava." To 
ascribe it to this accidental circumstance is natural enough, but there is reason 
to suppose, the statement excusably differs from the fact. The galleries were 
bi'guu with the express object of arming them with ordnance to play on the 
enemy's works ; and the formation of the embrasure alluded to, was simply 
the earnest of a settled scheme ; the first hostile step in its development. 

'» ' Drinkwiiter's Siege," Murray's edit., 184C, note, p. 118, 




severe. Fourteen were killed and fifteen wounded.''' Private 
George Brown, a mason of the company, was amongst the 

In July the company could only muster ninety-two men of 
all ranks, including the wounded and sick, having lost twenty- 
two men during the siege by death, six of whom had been 
killed. This was the more unfortunate, as the siege was daily 
assuming a more serious aspect, the enemy collecting in greater 
force, and the eftect of the cannonade upon the defences more 
telling and ruinous. Naturally the Governor's attention was 
called to the deficiency ; and as his chief dependence rested 
ujion the soldier-artificers for the execution and direction of the 
more important works, he was not only anxious for their com- 
pletion to the authorized establishment, but convinced of the 
desirableness of augmenting them. In this view he was the 
more confirmed, by the representations of Major-General Green, 
the chief engineer, and Lieutenant-General Boyd. As soon, 
therefore, as an opportunity offered, he urgently requested the 
Duke of Richmond, then Master-General of the Ordnance, to 
fill up the company with mechanics from England, and also to 
make a liberal increase to its establishment. His Grace ac- 
cordingly submitted the recommendation to His Majesty, and 
a Warrant, dated 31st August, 1782, was ioiued ordering the 
company to be increased with 118 men. Its establishment now 
amounted to — 

I Sergeant-major. 
10 Sergeants. 
10 Corporals. 
209 Working-men. 

4 Drummers. 

Total 234 

To carry otic the wishes of General Eliott, the Duke of 
Richmond employed parties in England and Scotland to enlist 
the required number, which for the most part consisted of car- 
I)enters, sawyers, and smiths. With great spirit and success the 
recruiting was conducted; and in less tlian a month 141 

" ' Drinkvrater's Siege,' Murray's edit., 1840, p. 11.1. 
VOL. t. G 




mechanics — more than enougli to meet both the deficiency and 
the authorized increase — were embarked for the Rock on board 
the transports which accompanied the relieving fleet under Lord 
Hood. Twenty landed on the 15th October ; a similar number 
next day, and the remaining 101 on the 2l8t. By this increase 
the carpenters were G6 in number, the sawyers 31, and the 
smiths 57. The masons at this time were 30 strong. 

The non-commissioned oflicers,'^ as they stood immediately 
after this augmentation, were jvs follows : — 

tScrr/canUmajor — Henry Ince. 

Sergeants : — 

David Young, carpenter. 
Edward Macdonald." 
Robert Blyth," nuison. 

" It is not intended to give the names of the non-commissioned officers 
entire at any future period. In this instance they have been mentioned, not 
so much for the interest of th<> general reader, as to preserve them. With 
those whose names havo already been noted, these constitute the first race of 
non-commissioned officers in the corps. 

" By the Chief Engineer's Order of 27th October, 1781, sergeant Macdonald, 
an active and good non-commissioned officer, was appointed to inspect and take 
care of all the drains throughout the fo.^ress in the room of sergeant-major 
Bridges, as also to keep the keys of the gratings, and to see them locked, to 
prevent ingress or egress by their means. This duty was considered a very 
important one, both from the facility the drains afforded for the entrance of 
the enemy and for desertions from the place, and also from the health of the 
garrison being in a great measure affected by their state. Not unfrequently 
during heavy rains, the gravel on the rock, washed down by the torrent, 
would rush into the drains and choke them up. To clear them, the company 
of artificers was invariably called upon, often at night ; and on one occasion, 
in April, 1813, private William Liddle, who was foremost in one of the great 
drains, after unlocking the grating, was carried down the sewer with the flood 
into the sea, and drowned. 

" Blyth served fifteen years in the 2nd Foot, and joined the company 
14th June, 1773. He was promoted to be sergeant on the 18th April, 1781, 
in succession to sergeant Brown who died at Fez, and whose widow became 
the Sultana of Morocco. By his industry and frugality he amassed consider- 
able property, and expended about 20,000 dollars in buildings at the fortress. 
He was well known as a zealous freemason, and erected a wine-house at the 
corner of the Eleventh, since called South Parade, in which the meetings or 
lodges of the fraternity were held free of expense. He was much respected 
by the inhabitants, and became very popular among them. On the 31st January, 
18(10, he was discharged from the corps, after a service of nearly forty-two 



Sergeants — continued, 

Alexander Grigor. 
James Smith, smith. 
ThoDiU8 Jackson, smith. 


years, and died at tlie Rock about 1804. Blyth had a nepliew in the Tripoline 
navy, of whom a few particulars may not be uninteresting. His name was 
Peter Lisle. When quite a youth, Peter was wrecked at Zoara, on the coast 
of Tripoli. He was one of three only who escaped. For a time he endured 
great hardships, but at length succeeded in getting on board a Ilritish mer- 
chflntman. In 179i2 he was at Gibraltar, on board the ' Enibden ' letter of 
marque, Lynch and Koss, owners. This vessel afterwards went to Tripoli 
with two consuls on board; and Lisle, then chief mate, was placed in charge 
of the cargo, some of which was corn. On arriving at Tripoli, the barrels 
containing the corn were found to have been plundered, and Lisle was called 
upon to account for the deficiency. This he could not do ; a quarrel ensued 
between the captain and himself, and resigning his situation, he landed, and 
entered the service of the Hashow. Having been chief mate of an English 
vessel was a strong recommendation in his favour, and he was at once 
appointed gunner of the castle. Associated with a strange people, he readily 
conformed to their manners and customs, embraced Mahommedan tenets — at 
least in appearance — and assumed the name of Mourad Reis. About 1794 he 
was nominated captain of a xebeck mounting eighteen guns ; and in the course 
of time, by his naval skill and abilities, became the High Admiral of the 
Tripoline Fleet and Minister of Marine. He married one of the daughters of 
the Bashaw, Sidi Yusuf, had a fine family, and enjoyed an ample income. 
Resides a house in the city, he had a villa and gardens in the Meshiah among 
the date-groves, which exhibited evidence of great taste and care, and were 
enriched with many trees of various species brought by him from different 
places at which he touched in Europe. He was a prudent and sagacious coim- 
sellor, gave excellent advice to the Bashaw, which was always based on good 
common sense— a quality not superabundant in the Civan — and was of great 
service to Lord Exmouth during his Algerine expedition. His appearance 
was venerable, he dressed richly, commanded much respect, and when 
addressing British officers — whom he always treated with great courtesy and 
hospitality — spoke with a broad Scotch accent, and sometimes entertained them 
with a relation of his own adventures. He was unpopular at times, as 
great politicians sometimes are. Blaquiere says (1813), " Poor Peter was no 
longer an object of consideration with any party." During the stay of Captain 
Lyon at Tripoli in 1818, Peter was in banishment, but the consul and chief 
people gave him an excellent character. Later, however, he again rose into 
confidence, for when Captain Beechey was there in 1821, Mourad Reis was 
much considered by his Highness, and acted as interpreter on the occasion of 
the Captain's audience with his Highness the Bashaw. He also proved of 
great service to Captain W. H. Smyth, R.N. On the fall of the Bashaw — 
Yusuf Karamanli — he retreated to Sfax in Tunis, since which his fate is 
uncertain. When in the zenith of his power and greatness he paid occasional 
visits to Gibraltar. On entering the bay, he always fired a salute of four guns 
in honour of his uncle, Serjeant Blyth, whom he treated with marked respect. 




Serijeants — continued. 

Robert Brand, mason, 
Robert Daniel. 
Joseph Makin, mason, 
Thomas Finch," carpenter. 

Corporals : — 
Robert Newell, mason. 
Hugh Sirrige, carpenter. 
Joseph Chambers,'" masim, 
James Carey, carpenter. 
Joseph Woodhcad,'" »i«s'/». 


This practice, however, he at length discontinued, owing to a shot, fired by 
mistake from one of his guns, having struck the wall of a rump just above 
Hargrave's Parade whilst he was paying his relative the usual affectionate 

" Finch joined the company on the 21st October, 1782, at the request of the 
Duke of Richmond, in whose service he had been employed at Goodwood. 
Anxious to secure him for the company, his Grace promised not only to make 
him a sergeant at once, but to give him a written protection to preserve to him 
as long as he remained, irrespective of his conduct, the pay of that rank. 
Under these circumstances Finch accepted the protective credential, enlisted, 
and sailed with Lord Hood for the Rock. Holding such a charter, it was not 
to be wondered at if he sometimes overstepped the line of prudence. Not by 
any means particular in his appearance, nor scrupulous in his conduct or habits, 
he was not unfrequently brought before his officers ; but no matter how flagrant 
his offence, the only punishment that could be awarded to him was suspension 
for a month or two from rank, but not from pay. Captain Evelegh, of the engi- 
neers, finding that Finch was becoming rather troublesome, and his sentences 
of bu' little effect, endeavoured to obtain the Duke's warrant from its possessor, 
but he refused to surrender it, observing to the captain, " If you get hold of it, 
good-bye to my rank and pay." Finch, however, was a first-rate carpenter and 
foreman, and these qualifications more than counterbalanced his occasional 
delinquencies. He was discharged from the corps on the 13th April, 18(J2. 

" Chambers joined the company 21st September, 1772, from the 2nd Regi- 
ment of Foot, in which he had served two years. In 1791 he was promoted 
to be sergeant-major, on the discharge of Ince. lu the summer of 1796 he was 
sent to Woolwich in a deranged state of mind, and on the 1st December of 
that year was discharged. Soon afterwards he was domiciled in a madhouse, 
where, his malady increasing, he was — it has been reported— smothered ac- 
cording to the cruel practice then in vogue with regard to incurable cases. 

" Woodhead joined the company 16th May, 1774, from the 12th Regiment, 
in which he had served seven years and a quarter. In November, 1 791, he was 
promoted to be sergeant, and was discharged I7th July, 1807, on a pension of 
■2s. yd. a-day, after a service of upwards of forty years. At Gibraltar he was 
found to be invaluable in the construction and repairs of the sea-line wall. 
He possessed a good share of intelligence ; was a strong, portly, blustering 
mason, and well adapted for the heavy and lalmrious duties for which he was 


Corporals — continued, 
John Morrison, mason. 
Jolin Harrison, masun. 
John Fraser, carpenter. 
Thomas Harrenden, carpenter, 
Antonio Francia,*" mason. 

And the officers were, in addition to those mentioned at 
pp. 4 and 5, Lieutenants William M'Kerras, John Johnston, 
and Lewis Hay. 

always selected. At Woolwich he was the military foreman of masons for 
many years, and was intrusted by Captain Hayter, then Commanding Royal 
Engineer, with the building of the wharf wall in the Royal Arsenal — a work 
highly creditable to the Engineer Department, and to Woodhead as the execu- 
tive overseer. 

'" Afterwards anglicised to Anthony Francis, was wounded by a shell at 
Willis's. He and his brother Dominick were natives of Portugal, and the 
only foreigners in the company. Antonio was a Catholic ; and as it was de- 
sired to preserve the Protestant character of the corps, a simple but effectual 
plan was taken to win his adherence to the Church of England. He asked 
leavi! to be married. The indulgence was refused unless he became a Pro- 
testaht, La Fiancee was also a Catholic ; but as a great event in their lives — 
which promised them no end of happiness — was likely to be indefinitely post- 
ponefi by a stubborn acquiescence to a creed for which, probably, they felt but 
little interest, both renounced the belief of their fathers, and were married as 
members of the national faith. Their family were baptized and educated as 
Protestants, but the old man on his de^xth-bed, returned to Mother-Church and 
died a Catholic. Three of his sons, now old men, fill comfortable appoint- 
ments at Gibraltar. Their cousins, merchants at the Rock, own the pltin 
called the " Spanish Race-course," above a mile beyond the Lines. One, Mr. 
Francis Francia, is British Consul at Sau Roque. Midway between the village 
of Campo and the consulate stands his farm, which is cultivated with en- 
lightened taste, and enriched with rare exotics in fruits and flowers. — Kclaart's 
Uotany and Topography of Gibraltar and its neighbourhood, pp. 179, 183. 




17«2— 1783. 

Siege continued — Magnitude of the works— Chevaux-de-frise from Landport 
Glacis across the inundation — Precis of other works — Firing red-hot shot — 
Damage done to the works of the garrison, and exertions of the company in 
restoring them — Grand attack, and bnruing of the battering flotilla — Heluc- 
tance of the enemy to quit the contest — Kilns for heating shot — Orange 
Bastion — Subterranean galleries — Discovery of the enemy mining under the 
Rock — Ulterior dependence of the enemy — Peace — Conduct of ' ' }mpany 
during the siege — Casualties. 

In August the siege daily wore a more significant appearance, 
and the enemy was diligent in concentrating his resources — 
unlimited both in means and materials — to make an ex- 
traordinary attack upon the fortress. To cope with these 
preparations General Eliott was no less alert. All was ardour 
and cheerfulness within the garrison, and every one waited 
impatiently for an opportunity to end the strife, which had 
held thousands close prisoners to their posts for more than 
three years. 

At this time the defensive works were very extensive, and 
many important alterations had yet to be made in several of 
the batteries, to afford more effectual cover to the artillery. 
The workmen consequently were greatly increased. Daily, 
nearly 2,000 men of the line were handed over to the engineers 
for the service of the fortifications; and the soldier-artificers 
were employed in their greatest force — two only being in 
hospital — to instruct and oversee them. In the more difficult 
works requiring experience, and the exercise of skill and ability, 
the company always laboured themselves. 

In the most vulnerable part of the fortress, from the foot of 
Landport Glacis adjoining Waterport, to the sloping palisades 




on the causeway across the inundation, the (jreater part of the 
carpenters of the company were occupied in fixing a chevaux- 
(le-frise. They completed tiie work without the least inter- 
ference from the enemy — a surprising instance of his inattention 
or forbearance. 

\Vhile the chevaux-de-frise was in course of erection, covered 
ways were being constructed at thp different lines on the north 
front, large and lofty traverses were raised along the line wall, 
the flank of the Princess Anne's Battery was rebuilt, the sub- 
terranean passages were pushed forward with vigour, and a 
covered way from the Grand Parade to the Orange Bastion 
was completed. Green's Lodge and the Royal Battery were 
also caissoned with ship-timber, and considerable alterations 
were made at Willis's. Indeed nothing was omitted to render 
the fortress capable of sustaining any attack to which it 
might be subjected from the enemy's immense and well-armed 

These works and many others of a similar nature were in 
progress when the firing of red-hot shot from the north front, 
under General Boyd's directions, commenced upon the enemy's 
batteries. The effect of this destructive expedient was astound- 
ing, and the demolition of the enemy's lines in great part soon 
followed. Panic-stricken or confused, the besiegers returned 
but a tardy fire, and the injury sustained by it was of little 

The bold attack of the garrison, however, aroused the 
Spaniards, who, quickly repairing their works, opened, on the 
next day, a warm and powerful fire upon the Rock from 170 
guns of large calibre. Nine line-of-battle ships also poured in 
their broadsides, in which they were assisted by fifteen gun ai i' 
mortar boats. Considerable injury was thus done to the north 
front, as also to the Montague and Orange Bastions ; the 
obstructions at Landport were likewise in great measure 
demolished, and many other works were partially razed. The 
engineers with the artificers and workmen were unremitting in 
their exertions, both during the night and in the day-time, to 
restore the defences where their importance, from their exposed 




situation, rendered iraincdiato reparation desirable. At Land- 
port, notwithstanding tlio siiarp firing of the enemy, the 
carpenters of the company were constantly detached to repair 
the fresh-recurring breaches, which, Drinkwatcr states, " were 
kept in a better state than might have been expected." 

This attack and retaliation, however, were as yet only pre- 
liminary to the greater one which was to follow. The interval 
was filled up by discharges of cannon, averaging 4,000 rounds 
in the twenty-four hours. On the 12th September the com- 
bined fleets of France and Spain arrived l)efore the Rock with 
ten floating batteries, bearing 212 guns; while their land 
batteries, strong and terrible, mounted 200 heavy guns, and 
were protected by an army of 40,000 men. 

In their several stations the battering flotilla wer 
moored, and the fleet anchored in less than ten minutes, xiie 
first ship having cast her anchors, that moment the garrison 
artillery began to throw its burning missiles. A tremendous 
rejoinder from the enemy succeeded. Upwards of 400 pieces 
of the heaviest artillery were disgorginfl; their dreadful contents 
at the same instant. Oi these the garrison only employed 96. 
For hours the balance of the contest was equal, the battering 
ships seemed invulnerable ; but, at length, the red-hot shot 
gave evidence of their efficacy in the sheets of resistless flame 
that burst in all directions from the flotilla. By the 14th the 
whole of the floating batteries were burnt : their magazines 
blew up one after another ; and it was a miracle, that the loss 
of the enemy by drowning did not exceed the numbers saved 
by the merciful efforts of the garrison. 

Notwithstanding this appalling reverse the enemy were still 
reluctant to quit the contest. Many proofs they had had of 
the unconquerable spirit of the besieged even whilst suffering 
from pinching privation, and warring against such overwhelm- 
ing odds ; but they still clung to the hope of compelling the 
surrender of their invincible adversjiries, though their repeated 
defeats should have taught them a far different lesson. 

This obstinacy, of course, necessarily caused other and more 
effectual preparations to be made in the fortress, to meet and 




withstand any future attacks. Red-liot shot was considered to 
Ik; the grand specific. To supply it in sufficient (juantities, 
the company of artificers ercctiMl kihis in various parts of tlie 
garrison. Each kiln was capable of heating 100 shots in little 
more than an hour. By this means, as l>inkwatcr writes, 
" the artificers were enabled to supply the artillery with a con- 
sttint succession for the ordnance." 

The struggle continued for some time much less terrific than 
has just been stated. From 1,000 to 2,000 rounds, however, 
were poured into the garrison in the twenty four hours, and 
were followed up with more or less briskness for a few months, 
according to the varying caprice of the assailai s, During this 
cannonade, the artificers under the engineer^ were constantly 
engaged in the diversified works of the fortress, and they began 
to rebuild the whole flank of the Orange Bastion on the sea- 
line, 120 feet in length. All the available masons and miners 
of the company were appointed to this important work, and 
were greatly strengthened on the arrival of the 141 mechanics 
under Ixird llood. In the face of the enemy's artillery, the 
artificers continued fearlessly to rear the flank, and at last 
completed it in about three months, to the amazement and 
satisfaction of the Governor and the gan-ison. The erection of 
such a work, in solid masonry, and under such circumstances, 
is j)erhaps unprecedented in any siege, and is alike highly 
honourable to the engineers and to the company. 

Nor was the subterranean gallery under Farringdon's Battery 
prosecuted with less zeal under serjeant-major I nee. Five 
embrasures by tiiis time had been opened in the front of the 
Rock facing the neutral ground. The miners exerted them- 
selves with an energy that was conspicuous and commendable. 
This singular work seemed to be the Governor's hobby ; he 
expected much from it, and ordered a similar Battery for two 
guns to be cut in the Rock, near Croutchet's Battery, above the 
Prince of Hesse's Bastion. Its completion, however, was not 
effected until after the siege. 

To the schemes of the enemy there appeared to be no end ; 
neither did they lack hope nor want confidence. They had 




failed to obtain the submission of the garrison by famine ; 
equally so, by a protrac'ted bombardment ; nor was their 
tremendous attack by a bomb-proof flotilla, "ssisted by their 
formidable land batteries, attended with better success. They 
now attempted a fourth stratagem, to mine a cave in the Rock 
by which to blow up the north front, and thus make a breach 
for their easy entrance into the fortress. Chimerical as the 
project might appear, it was conducted with some spirit, and 
occasioned the garrison much employment. Information of the 
infatuated design was, in the first instance, given by a deserter 
from the enemy, which, however, was cautiously received ; and 
as it was impracticable to perceive the miners at work, doubts 
still existed whether the enemy had actually embarked in the 
scheme. These doubts were at length removed by sergeant 
Thomas Jackson,' of the artificer company, by whose enteqms- 
ing eff'irts the movements of the enemy were rendered indis- 
putable. It was his duty to reconnoitre^ the north front, in 
addition to other services for which he was held responsible. 
Anxious to ascertain the cause of so much mysterious activity 
at the Devil's Tower, he descended the steep and rugged rock 
by means of ropes and ladders. The attempt was as bold as 
it wjii) hazardous. Stopped by an opening very near to the 
base of the cliff he explored the entrance, and hearing the hum 
of voices and the busy strokes of hammers and picks he was 
well assured of the purpose for which the excavation was 
intended. Climbing the steep again, he reported what he had 
discovered. A stricter watch was therefore kept upon the 
Tower to prevent communication between it and the Rock, 
Hand-grenades and weighty fragments of stone were frequently 

' Joined the company August, 1776, from the 56th Foot, in which he had 
served eleven years. Discliarged about 1789. 

* Ueconnoitering appears to liave been a duty that devolved upon sergeants 
of the company. On the 25th December, 1782, two soldiers attempted to desert 
from Mount Misery ; one "got down, though the rope broke, which accident 
was ;he cause of the other being retaken. A few dpys after a sergeant of the 
artificers was ordered to reconnoitre the place where this deserter descended, 
and he got down far enough to dis' over the unfortimate man dashed to pieces 
at the foot of the precipice." — ' Drinkwafer.' Murray's edit., 1846, p, 100. 



hurled over the precipice to terrify the workmen below, and 
choke up the entrance to the gallery ; and though these means 
did not make the intrepid miner? relinquish their project, they 
yet greatly interrupted its progress. The notion of the engineer 
who proposed the mine must have been the result of desperation, 
fcr what m'";!, have been its nature to crumble in its explosion a 
huge mass of compact rock, nearly 1 ,400 feet of perpendicular 
height, into a roadway, by which to enter the fortrtiS as 
thv: ugh a breach ? 

SjUcc the flotilla had been burnt and the fleet had disap- 
pean^d, it was evident that the enemy now depended for a 
triumph on their gim-boats and land-batteries, and also the 
mine at the Devil's Tower. For a Lime they warmly plied the 
fortress with shot and shell, to which the garrison responded 
with considerable animation. Intervals followed, induced by 
indecision or caprice, in which the firing from the enemy was 
very desultory and inefficacious ; but that from the garrison 
was always well sustained. The soldiers of the Rock seemed to 
rise in spirit and activity as the enemy dechned in these qua- 
lities. With the latter, the barometer of iheir hopes fell with 
their energies. Still they fruitlessly laboured on, the min*) 
under the Rock being the principal object of their attention, 
until relieved I'rom the disgrace of another defeat, by the 
arrival of news from home of the signing of preliminaries for a 
general peace. The intelligence was commuuicatod to the 
garrison on the 2nd February, 1783, and on the 5th, the last shot 
in the conflict was fired from the fortress. 'I'lius terminated a 
siege, extending over a period of nearly four y(!ars, which, when 
all the circumstances connected with it are tfa:en into account, 
am sciircely find its parallel in the chrd'.icles of ancient or 
modern warfare. 

During the whole of this memorable defence, the company 
of artificere proved themselves to be good and bravo soldiers ; 
and no less conspicuous for their skill, usefulness, and zeal on 
the works. With their conduct and exertions in the i)erformance 
of their various professional duties, their officers were always 
well plejised ; aud, not unfrequently, the Governor, and General 






and Kile. 






7 49 






Boyd, in witnessing their services, encouraged and flattered 
them with expressions of their admiration. In later days, when 
the expediency of raising a corps of military artificers was dis- 
cussed in the House of Commons, Captain Luttrell stated, 
" that during the siege, the corps at Gibraltar had been found 
of infinite service."^ 

The following is a detail of the casualties that occurred in 
the company at this siege : — 



Wouuded, severely . . 
Wounded, but recovered . 2 
Dead by sickness . . 

Total ... 2 4 66 "2 

Besides which, two men having plundered the King's stores, 
were executed for the oflfence at the Convent in Irish Town, on 
the 29th May, 1781.» 

It is, however, satisfactory to mention, that of the forty-three 
desertions recorded to have taken place from the garrison, none 
were from the artificer company. One regiment was decreased 
eleven men from this cause, and another nine. 

"' Gentleman's Magazine,' 58, part 2, 1788. 

* Sergeant John Richmond — date unknown. 

Corporal Charles Tabb ) „,., »,t . -„, 
,, . , „ > 25th November, 1781. 

Mason Adam Parsons ) 

Mason Adam Sharp— .Mh March, 1782. 

Mason George Brown — 11th .Tune, 1782. 

Nailor Hobert Shepherd — Kith January, 1783. 
The name of the other man killed cannot be ascertained, as the documents of 
the company from the commencement of the siege to the 30th September, 1781, 
■ire lost. 

' The names of the criminals were Artificers Samuel Whitaker and Simon 






Due de Crillon's compliments respecting 'i^ works— Subterranean galleries — 
Their supposed inefficiency— Henry 'nc>. — Q; ickness of sight of two boys of 
the company— Employment of the boys oaring the siege— Tliomas Rich- 
mond and Jolin Brand — Models constructed by them. 

The cessation of hostilities brought the commanders of the two 
powers together, and a most interesting interview took place 
between them. Dm-ing the visit of the Due de Crillon, he was 
shown all the marvels of the Rock ; but the fortifications espe- 
cially engaged his attention. Having been coiHluctod to the 
batteries on the heights, his Grace made some remarks on the 
formidable appearance -"f the lower def. . and on the good 
state of the batteries in ho short a peruMi Th(>se," writes 

Drinkwater, "produced some compliments to tin' chii-t I'ngi- 
neer ;" and, continues the historian, " when conducted into the 
gallery above Farringdon's Battery — now called Windsor his 
Grace was particularly astonis!ied, especially when informed of 
its extent, which at that time was between 500 and 600 feet. 
Turning to his suite, after exploring the extremity, he exclaimed, 
these works are worthy of the Romans."' 

For many years the galleries thus eulogized, by the Duke were 
in course of construction, and are formed, as already stated, by 
deep excavations in the solid rock. Passing round the north 
face in two tiers,'' mounting about forty pieces of heavy 
ordnance, they command the approach to the fortress from the 
neutral ground, and render it almost impregnable on that side. 
Large magazines and spacious halls— in like manner hewn out 
of the rock— are attached to them. The work, as a whole, 

I Drinl. water's 'Siege of Gibraltar." Murray's edit., 1840, p. 16,1. 
• Called Lower, or Union Galleries ; and Upper, or Windsor Galleries. 



executed principally by the jumper and blasting, is curious and 
even marvellous, bearing also unequivocal evidence of ingenuity 
and of immense labour. Than these subterranean passages and 
chambers, no better testimony need scarcely be desired of the 
successful superintendence of sergeant-major Ince and of the 
ikill and exertions of the company. 

Notwithstanding the fonnidable character of these defences, 
doubts seem to exist as to their real efficiency in a siege. These 
doubts have arisen from the idea that the report of the explosion 
would not only be deafening, but that the smoke would return 
into the galleries and suffocate the men.' No experiments 
have ever been made with the view of ascertaining these par- 
ticulars : speculation is therefore properly admissible. Once, 
indeed, in 1804, they were fired in salvo to dispel, if possible, 
the then raging fever ;* and at distant intervals since, some of 
the guns have been discharged ; but no complaint was ever mad-" 
— at least became public — of the inutility of these galleries from 
the causes stated. To expect a loud report is certainly 
natural, but much less so the recoil of the smoke, as a strong 
current of air is always passing in the galleries, and rushing 
with some force through the embrasures. No matter how 
sultry the day, how still the air, or how fiercely the s in may 
beam upon the Rock, in these galleries a strong breeze is 
constantly felt ; and the fresher the wind the outside, 
whether from the north-east, and blowing directly into the 
embrasunv, or sweeping round the Rock, the stronger is the 
current witliin the ij;allcrios to force back or disperse the smoke. 
But little, therefore, of the vnpour can find its way back, and 
that little must be much less annoying to the gunners than in 
an open field when, firing smartly in the teeth of the wind, the 
whole volume turns back and beclouds them as long as the 
cannonade continues. However, should the alleged defect be 
found on trial to exist, there is no reason to fear but that the 

' Walsh's ' Campaigns in Egjpt,' is i, p. 5. Wilkic, 'On British Colo- 
nil's considered as Military Posts,' in Iiiited Service Journal, Part ii., 1840, 
p. 379. 
* Maiile's 'Campaigns of North Hollai;d and Kgjpt,' &c., p. •')0,'i. 




military engineer will readily adopt some effectual contrivance 
for removing the annoyance, and for obtaining all that power 
and efficiency which the galleries were designed to possess and 
should be capable of commanding. 

Since these excavations — these vaults of solitude — which excite 
some degree of awe from their magnitude, and the proud array 
of ordnance that arm them — have always been highly praised by 
military men, and been visited both by officers and others as a 
species of marvel at the fortress, it will not be out of place to 
introduce the projector — Henry Ince — to notice. He was born 
in 1737 at Penzance in G)mwall, was brought up to the trade 
of a nailor, and afterwards acquired some expericiice as a miner. 
Early in 1755 he enlisted into the 2nd Foot, and served some 
time with it at Gibraltar, where he had been much employed on 
the works in mining and blasting rock. After a service of 
seventeen and a half years in the 2nd regiment, he joined the 
company, then forming, on the 26th June, 1772. The same 
day he was promoted to be sergeant. Having showed superior 
intelligence in the execution of his duties as a foreman, and 
distinguished himself by his diligence and gallantry during the 
siege, he was, in September, 1781, selected for the rank of 
sergeant-major. In the following year he suggested the forma- 
tion of the galleries, and was honoured by being directed to 
conduct the work himself. This he continued to do until it was 
finished. As " overseer of the mines," he had the executive 
charge of all hiasting, mining, battery building, &c., at the for- 
tress, and tvas found to be invaluable. He was active, prompt, 
and persevering, very short in stature, but wiry and hardy in 
constitution ; was greatly esteemed by his officers, and fre- 
quently the subject of commendation from the highest autho- 
rities at Gibraltar. In February, 1787, when the Duke of 
Richmond was endeavouring to economize the ordnance expen- 
diture at the Rock, the emoluments of sergeant-major Ince 
claimed his attention : but remembering his fair fame, his 
Grace thus wrote concerning him : — " I do not object to sergeant- 
major Henry Ince being continued as overseer of mines at 4». 
per day, as I understand, from all accounts, that he is a meri- 



torious man, and that he distinguished himself during the siege ; 
but, as such allowance, in addition to his pay, is very great, I 
desire it may not be considered as a precedent ; and whoever 
succeeds him must only receive 2s. \0d. per day, like the fore- 
men in other branches, if he should be appointed a foreman." 
In 1791, after a period of thirty-six years' active service, he was 
discharged from the company, but wjis still continued on the 
works as an overseer. On the 2nd February, 1796, he was 
commissioned as ensign in the Royal Garrison Battalion, find on 
the 24th March, 1801, was promoted to be lieutenant. In 1802 
the regiment was disbanded. All this time, however, Ince was 
attached to the department as assistant-engine(*r ; but at length, 
having worn himself out in the service of the fortress, he 
returned to Penzance, and died in June, 1809, at the age of 

Among the various stirring incidents narrated by Drinkwater, 
is the following, relative to the peculiar advantage of the boys 
of the soldier-artificer company during the siege. 

" In the course of the day," 25th March, 1782, " a shot came 
through one of the capped embrasures on Princess Aiielia's 
Battery (Willis's), took off the legs of two men belonging to the 

» Ince had a farm at the top of the Rock, which is still called by his name. 
He had an only son, a clerk in the Commissariat department at Gibraltar, 
under Commissary-general Sweetlove, who, together with his wife, died in the 
fever of 1804, leaving an infant son, who was brought up by his grandmother. 
The eldest daughter of Lieutenant Ince was married at Gibraltar to Lieute- 
nant R. Stapleton, of the 60th Rifles, who exchanged with Lieutenant Croker 
into the 13th Foot, and then sold out. 

One day Mr. Ince was trotting at ai> easy pace up the Rock, when the Duke 
of Kent, overtaking him, observed, " That horse, Mr. Ince, is too old for you." 
" I like to ride easy, your Royal Highness," was the subaltern's meek reply. 
"Right, but you shall have another, more in keeping with your worth and 
your duties;'' and soon afterwards the Duke presented him with a very valu- 
able steed. The old overseer, however, was unable to manage the animal, and 
he rode again to the works on his own quiet nag. The Duke, meeting him 
soon after, inquired how it was he was not riding the new horse, when Ince 
replied, he was unable sufficiently to curb his spirit and tranquillize his pace. 
Ince then prayed his Royal Highness to honour his servant by receiving the 
noble creature into his stud again. " No, no, overseer," rejoined the Duke; 
" if you can't ride him easily, pnt him into your pocket I" The overseer readily 
understood his Royal Highness, and exchanged the beautiful steed for his vorth 
in doubloons. 




72nd and 73rd regiments, one leg of a soldier of the 73rd, and 
wounded another man in hoth legs ; thus four men had seven 
legs taken off and wounded by one shot. The boy, who was 
usually stationed on the works where a large party was 
employed to inform the men wher. the enemy's fire was directed 
to that place, had l)een reproving them for their carelessness in 
not attending to him, and had just turned his head toward the 
enemy, when he observed this shot, and instantly called for 
them to take care ; his caution was, however, too late ; the shot 
entered the embrasure, and had tlie above-recited fatal effect. 
It is somewhat singular that this boy should be possessed of 
such uncommon quickness of sight as to see the enemy's shot 
almost immediately after they quitted the guns. He was not, 
however, the only one in the garrison possessing this qualifica- 
tion ; another boy, of about the same age, was as celebrated, if 
not his superior. Both of them belonged to the artificer 
company, and were constantly placed on some part of the 
works to observe the enemy's fire ; their names were Richmond 
(not Richardson, as stated by Drinkwater) and Brand; the 
former was reported to have the best eye."" Joseph Parsons,' 
another youth of the company, was also employed as a looker- 
out on the works ; and though his name has escaped the notice 
of the historian, he was nevertheless no less efficient. 

It was an object that every one in the fortress should lie 
rendered useful in some way or other, and the boys of the 
company — out of sympathy for their youth — were, for some 
time after the commencement of the siege employed on the 
works at Earopa quarry, then but little annoyed by the 
enemy's fin,'. At length, inured to labour, and taught by 
events to expect danger, it was considered of greater advantage 
to occuj)y their time at the diflferent batteries ; and on the 15th 
February, 1782, the Chief Engineer directed their removal to 
the works and fortifications," with the view of looking out for the 

• ' Drinkwater.' Murray's edit., 1846, p. 108. 

' Parsons joined the company in February, 1779, and was discharged, as a 
private artificer, 1st January, 1809, on Is. 4(/. a-day. 
" Order Book— Chief Engineer's. 




enemy's projectiles, and giving warning of their approach. On 
the 21si June following, yuch of the boys as were masons in 
the company were engaged under Mr. Hutchinson, a civil 
foreman, in rounding stones, agreeably to the instructions 
of Major Lewis of the artillery. These stones, according to 
Drinkwatcr, wore " cut to fit the calibre of a 13-inch mortar, 
with a hole drilled in the centre, which being filled with a 
sufficient quantity of powder, were fired with a short fuse 
to burst over the enemy's works." It was an unusual mode of 
annoyance, and for its novelty was employed lor some time ; but 
not eflfecting the damage that was desired, it was ultimately laid 
aside." On the failure of this experiment, the boys returned to 
the perilous posts assigned to them on the batteries to look out. 
At this duty they continued as long as the siege lasted, and 
doubtless, by their vigilance in its execution, they were the 
means of saving many valuable lives, or othenvise preventing 

Of the two boys who have been so favourably noticed by 
Drinkwater, it may not be unacceptable to devote a small 
space here to their brief but honourable history. Their names 
were Thomas Richmond '" and John Brand ; the former was 
known at the Rock by the familiar sobriquet of shell, being the 
better looker-out ; and the latter by the name of shot. Rich- 
mond was trained as, a carpenter ; Brand as a mason. Their 
fathers were sergeants in the company." Richmond's was 
killed at the siege. As might be expected, the beneficial 
services of these boys at the batteries acquired for them no 
common celebrity and esteem. 

The siege being over, the youths were sent to Mr. Geddes's 
school, at that time the principal seminary at Gibraltar. This 
gentleman paid every attention to their instruction and im- 
provement, and, as a consequence, they progressed rapidly in 

" 'Order-Book' (Chief Engineer's) of 2l5t June, 1782 ; and 'Drinkwatcr,' 
Murray's edit., 1S46, p. 118. 

'" Not Richardson, as Drinkwater has it, p. 108. 

" Brand's father, a mason bj ./ade and a Perthsliire man, was the first 
artificer enrolled in the company. 




their studies. Being found quick, intelligent, and ingenious, 
some officers of the company patronized them, and placed them 
in the drawing-room under their own eye, with the view of 
making them competent to fill better situations. Brand in time 
became corporal, and Richmond lance-corporal, whioh ranks 
they held on the 8th May, 1789, when they were discharged 
from the corps, and appointed by the Commander-in-Chief 

Having made considerable proficiency in their trades, they 
were employed for some years previous to their discharge as 
modellers, which art they continued to follow with great tact, 
skill, and perseverance, until they quitted the fortress. Aft<}r 
several trial models of various subjects, these young men com- 
menced the gigantic task of modelling Gibraltar, at which they 
worked with unwearied application for nearly three years. 
Succeeding so well in this their first great and public under- 
taking, Brand '•' was directed to make a model in polished stone 
of the King's Bastion, and Richmond '* a model of the north 
front of Gibraltjir. Nearly the whole of the years 1790 and 
1791 were spent in perfecting them ; and for these noble speci- 
mens of art they were favoured with the flattering congratula- 
tions of the highest authorities at the fortress. The better to 
exemplify the appreciation entertained of the models, and of the 
merits and talents of the modellers, they were recommended to 
the Duke of Richmond for commissions. His Grace immedi- 
ately ordered them to proceed to Woolwich, to undergo some 
slight preparatory training. That training was short — a few 
months sufficed, and then they were honoured with appointments 
as second lieutenants in the royal engineers. Their commissions 
were dated 17th January, 1793."' Soon the young subalterns. 

'* 'Order- Book' (Chief Engineer's), 8th May, 1789. 

■" Assisted by sergeant James Shirres, an ingenious artizan and modeller. 
This non-commissioned officer, after serving at the capture of Minorca, was 
made a sergeant-msyor of the company that served there, 2nd May, 1800, and 
on the 3l8t December, 1804, was appointed overseer in the royal engineer 
department at Plymouth. 

>* Assisted by Antonio Marques, a Minorcaen artificer, 

" ' London Gazette,' 13,494. 15 to 19 January, 1793. 

d2 ■ 




rich in intelliffciice and full of promise, wcro sent abroad ; but 
before the close of the year, both fell a j)rey to the prevailing 
yellow fever in the West Indies." 

The three models alluded to were brought to England in 
171t3 by desire of General O'Hara. The large model of the 
entire Rock was deposited in the museum in the Royal Arsenal, 
and the other two were presented to Ilis Majesty George III. 
Private Joseph Bethell had charge of the first model," and 
Private Thomas Hague '" of the other two. The large model, 

" The i^ducation of these youths is highly creditable to the officers of engi- 
neers. Mu'iy similar instances of buys in the corps ac(|uiring distinction by 
their talents, have subsequently occurred, the honour of which, in great mea- 
sure, is due to ihe officers. Assistance and encOHragement thoy never fail to 
give in cases where their efforts are likely to meet with success, and numbers 
have thus qualified themselves to till important situations with efficiency au<l 
credit, in their own profession, and afterwards in civil life. Itichmond and 
Brand, however, are the only instances in which commissions have been 
given from the ranks of the artificers, or sappers and miners, into the corps of 

" Drinkwater says (p. 108), "that one of the works of these young men, 
while pursuing their studies at Woolwich, was to finish the large model of the 
rock of Gibraltar." The historian has certainly been misled here: the model 
was finished before it left the fortress, and did not reach the Arsenal until after 
its makers had been commissioned, and left England for the West Indies. 
The placement and adjustment of its several parts were intrusted to a military 
artificer named Hethell. He was to have been assisted by another private, 
who accompanied him for the purpose, from Gibraltar; but having broken his 
leg at Woolwich, his services were thus lost. Private ,Iohn McNaughton, a 
carpenter of the Woolwich company, was put to the model in his place. I 
knew McNaughton well, and he assured me that the model was not touched 
by any hands but his own and Uethell's, and that on no occasion were the 
modellers present during its fixation. McNaughton seems to have been an 
excellent artificer, and always an active soldier. During the mutiny of 
Parker, he was employed in repairing Tilbury Fort, and in erecting temporary 
defences below Gravesend. He afterwards served under the great Abercrom- 
bie in Egypt ; next was employed in constructing the towers on the Sussex 
coast, at the time of the projected invasion of Napoleon ; and, lastly, was many 
years in Newfoundland. He was discharged 24th January, ISl.l, on Is. 4(1. 
a-day, and died at Woolwich in April, \sr>3, aged 84. 

'" Hague was a tall, intelligent mechanic, a fine modeller, and a smart sol- 
dier. On account of these qualities, he was selected to take charge of the 
models for George III. Having put them together on their tables at Bucking- 
ham Palace, His Majesty, the Queen, and royal family, with other illustrious 
personages of the court, came to see them. Hague was cited before them to 
explain the model, and to point out the defences which, from t leir prominence 
in the late siege, had acquired historic identity. His observatioi:s were listened 



from being lodged in a public place open to visitors, was well 
known. It was an object of considerable attraction, " and was 
much admired," so Drinkwater writes, " for beauty of execution 
and niiimte correctness.'"" A visitor to the Arsenal in those 
days corroborates the just encomium of the historian, and thus 
records his impressions : — 

" I walked yesterday morning to Woolwich Warren, that 
immense repository of military arts, the iKilladium of our 
empire, where one wonder succeeds another so raj)idly, that the 
mind of a visitor is kept in a continual giize of admiration. 
Should I be asked what has made the strongest imj)rcssion on 
mine, it is a magnificent view of the rock of Gibraltar, which 
was made there, formed of the very rock itself, on a scale of 
twenty-five feet to an inch, and presents a most perfect view of 
it in every point of i)erspcctive." '*' 

Nine years after its placement, the museum in the arsenal 
was fired by an incendiary, and this celebrated model was 
unfortunately destroyed.*' The other two models, which held 

to with attention, and His Maiesty awarded him a gratifying proof of his royal 
approbation. Soon afterwards Hague returned to Gil)raltar, and on the .'list 
Marcli, ISIS, was discharged and pensioned at \s. 8c/. a-day. He was subse- 
(juently employed as a modeller in the grand store; was married in lSi7 ; and 
died at the Kock about 1833, upwards of 100 years old. 

1° ' Drinkwater.' Murray's edit., 184(i, p. 108. 

'"' To this the visitor adds a description of the model, wliich is adjoined 
here, on account of the model itself having long since been destroyed. " First 
then," says the writer, "are the Spanish lines; then the perpendicular rock, 
rising bold from the neck of the neutral ground, which is not many feet above 
high-water mark. On the east, or left hand, is the Mediterranean Sea ; and 
on the west, within the nu)le or pier, is the Hay of Gibraltar, in which the 
largest ships in the Hritish Navy may ride safe. The garrison, town, and forts, 
are to the westward, whence the rock rises with a more gradual acclivity to 
the summit, — the east side of which is also perpeuilicular, and inhabited by 
monkeys. On the highest point is the Levant Battery, wliieli is nearly three 
times and one half the height of St. Paul's church, or 137.') feet above the level 
of the sea. The southern extremity of the model of this rock towards Fluropa 
I'oiut, being too large for the room, and less important, is eut oil". This de- 
scription ought to fill a volume." — Gentleman's Magazine, part L', 1798, p. fi48. 

«' This was on the a2nd May, 1802. The acctmnt given at the time of this 
disgrr"ceful act is as follows ; — " A dreadful fire broke out at Woolwich, and 
from the investigation which has taken place into this calamitous circumstance, 
there is but too much reason to believe that this disaster was not the mere effect 




a place in Buckinglmm Palace for about twenty-seven years, 
were presented in 1 H20 liy George IV. to the Royal Military 
Repository at Woolwich. They are now daily exhihited in 
the Rotunda, and are, jjerhaps, about the best specimens of 
workmanship and ingenuity in the |)lacc. That of the King's 
Bastion is finely wrouglit, and is really beautiful ; that of the 
north front, bold and masterly. Both claim tbe particular 
attention of visitors, exciting at once their surnrise and admi- 

of acculent. Tlit" firu broke out, nt oii'! imd tlio some timp, in ihvvv different 
places, besides which a great mass of cDiubnstiblu materials have been disco- 
vered. The loss to Govcrnnieiit will he immense. The damage done to llie 
Model-room is particularly to be lamented, as several choice works of art have 
been destroyed, without the power of reparation; however, the injury done to 
the beautiful model of the rock of Gibraltar is not so great us was at first re- 
presented, it having sustained but a slight damage, wliich can be easily repaired, 
and the whole restored to its original state." — Dodsley's Annual liegister, 
ISD'J, p. 404. The journalist 18 wrong in his remarks concerning the state of 
the model after the tire. It was completely destroyed, and not even the frag- 
ments are now in exi:;teuce. Some persons, indeed, with whom I have con- 
versed, bear out the chronicler in his record, and aflirm that the model ions 
repaired, and w how in the liotunda; but they have given me a fair inference 
of the mistaken character of their recollections, by uniformly referring to the 
model of the nurth front, executed by liichmond and Mnr((ues, which, at the 
very time that the fire occurred, formed one of the curiosities of liuckinghani 
Palace. Drinkwnter (p. ll'8, Murray's edit.) attests the fact of its destruction; 
and in this he is borne out by the ' Uepository Detail of Arms,' &c., printed in 
18^2, In that catalogue (at p. 9— 21 ) is a list of the arms, models, Stc, of the 
Driijiniit institution preserved from the fire of 1802, and collected by Sir William 
Congreve, but no mention is made of the moilel in question. This, then, is the 
best attainable evidence of the certainty of its demolition, coupled with the 
acknowledgment, at page .12 of the same catalogue, that the " North end of 
Gibraltar," the model mistaken for the one destroyed in the Arseral, was 
presented to the Kepository by George IV. Had the large model of the Uock 
been preserved, Sir William Congreve would most certainly have noted it in 
the detail. 






Statu of tlic fortress — Exfciition of the works ilopeiided upon ttic company — 
Crsiialties filled up by tranefors from the line — Comjiositiou — liccruiting — 
Ke.'ieved from all Uiitius, garrisou and regimental — Anniversary of the de- 
striiciion of the Spanish battering flotilla. 

Foil about six months previously to the termination of hostili- 
ties, the sii'ge hua been carried on with fearful vigour, and the 
destruction it occasioned, revealed to a mournful extent the 
efficiency of the enemy's cannonade. The tiers of 1 ntteries on 
the north front, the whole of the fortifications along the sea 
face, and indeed every work of a pcnnanoiit character, were 
considerably damaged or thrown down. The town too was 
little better than a vast ruin, and its houses were levelled to the 
rock, or were loft standing in tottering fragments, or at best in 
their shells, despoiled and untencinted, as so many monuments 
of an unboinided calamity. The inhabitants, driven shelterless 
into the streets, were compelled either to leave the fortress, or 
to locate themselves under canvas amid the general desolation ; 
or to seek a comfortless retreat in the dark and gloomy ca\'erns 
of the rock. Such was the wreck to which Gibraltiu* wiis 
reduced at the close of the siege, and the work of restoration, 
therefore, was both extensive and pressing. 

The reconstruction or repair of the fortifications and other 
public works at the fortress, in great part depended ujjon the 
company ; and the more so, since the immbers of the line com- 
petent to work as tradesmen were inconsiderable. Assistance 
from the civil population of the place was neither given nor 
expected, as the works in the town secured to them abundance 
of employment and excellent wages. Policy, therefore, dictated 




the expediency of paying particular regard both to the nume- 
rical and physical efficiency of the company. 

At the close of the siege, there were twenty-nine rank and 
file wanting ij complete the soldier-artificers, which number 
was increased to thirty-nine by the end of May. To supply 
this deficiency, the Governor ordered the transfer of an equal 
number of artificers fro"'. regiments in the garrison : and on the 
31st July, the company was complete. Still, there were many 
of the men who, from wounds received at the siege, or from 
privation and hardship, or from exposure in camp, in summer, 
to the excessive heat of the sun, and in the autumn, to the 
heavy rains, were unequal 1 j the exertion required from them 
on the v.'o.ks. Among them were the best masons and carpen- 
ters of ihe company, who were stated to have been " expended " 
during the siege. Accordiiigly, on thj 31st of August, sixty- 
seven men, good " old servants, and those that had lost the use 
of their liiiibs .n tlu; service," were discharged and " recom- 
mendcu," whose vacancies were at once filled up by volunteers 
from the line. 

After this desirable pruning, the composition of the company 
stood as under : — 

1 Sergeant-major. 

10 Sergeants. 

10 Corporals. 

4 Drummers. 
38 Mi.sons. 
."iS Smiths. 

,54 Carpenters. 
21 Sawv'.TS. 
32 Miners. 

6 Wheelers. 

5 File-cutters. 
4 Nuiloi's. 

3 Gardeners. 

7 Lime-liurners. 
3 Coopers. 

1 Painter. 

1 Collar-maker. 

1 Brazier. 

Total 234 

As far as circumstances permitted, the strength of the com- 




pany was never allowed to sink beneath its establishment, for 
whenever a casualty occurred, it was immediately filled up. 
Not only was the Chief Engineor anxious on this point, but the 
Governor and Lieut.-Governor felt equal concern, and were 
ready to give effect to any measure which should yield the 
required result. If, at Gibraltar, the recruiting failed from the 
want of the proper classes of mechanics to join the company, 
the Duke of Richmond found means in England and Scotland 
to meet the case. His Grace was both an admirer and an 
advocate of the military system of carrying on the works, and 
took peculiar interest in the recruiting, even to superintending 
the service, and acting in some ca. ?3 as the recruiting sergeant. 
Hence the company, seldom shc.i. of its complement of men, 
inva. iably afforded a force of more than 220 non-commissioned 
officers and artificers to be employed constantly in restoring the 
fortifications, &c. : the sick at this period averaged aliout eight 
a day. 

To obtain the full benefit of their services, and to expedite 
the works, tie soldier- artificers were excused from all garrison 
routine — as well as from their own regimental gui^rds and 
fatigues — and freed from all interferences likely to interrupt 
them in the performiince of their working duties. Even the 
cleaning of their rooms, the care of their anns and accoutre- 
ments, and the cooking of their messes, were attended to by 
ijoldiers of the line. Every encouragement was thus given to 
the company to work well and assiduously, and every liberty 
that could possibly be conceded, not excepting a })artial aban- 
donment of discipline, was granted to them. Nevertheless, to 
impress them with the recollection that their civil employments 
and privileges did not make them {\ny the less soldiers, they 
were jjaraded genorcHy under arms, on the Sunday ; and to 
heighten the effect of their military apjiearance, wore accou- 
trements which had belonged to a disbanded Newfoundland 
regiment, purchased for at the economical outlay of 7s. 
a set. Perhaps no body of men subject to tlie articles of war 
werf^ ever permittid to live and work under a T.'lder surveil- 
lance ; and it might be added, tliat none could t ive rendered 




servicea more in keeping with the indulgences bestowed. They 
did their duty with zeal, and the works progressed to the satis- 
faction of the engineers and the authorities. 

The remembrance of the late siege was not likely soon to be 
effaced from the memory of those who participated in it ; and 
hence the company, regarding themselves in a peculiar sense as 
the fencibles of the fortress, and as having contributed largely 
to its defence, commemorated the event by means of a ball and 
supper. The festival was held at the " Three Anchors Inn," 
on the 13th of September — the anniversary of the destruction 
of the battering flotilla — on which occasion Lord Ileathfield, 
and Sir Robert Boyd, the Lieutenant-Governor, with their 
respective staff-officers, dined with the company, and retired 
after drinking one or two complimentary toasts in praise of 
their gallantry at the siege, and their useful services on the 
fortifications and works.' 

' This anniversary supper was held by the non-commissioned officers an- 
nually, on tlie date named, at the Tlircc Anchors. After the first year, tlie 
tickets of admission were ICs. Be?, each, or 5 dollars and 4 reals, which pro- 
vided, in tlie language of one who used to have a seat at the table, " a sump- 
tuous entertainment." At that time the dollar was Us., and the real 4^/. 
Each ticket adnutted a married non-commissioned officer and his family, or a 
single one and his friend. The privates took no part in the celebration. On 
each occasiou, the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, &c., honoured the company 
with their presence, and made gratifying allusions to their services at the 
siege. The night of the festival used to be familiarly termed Jimh-ship niijht, 
both by the inhabitants and the soldiers. The custom was perpetuated till the 
year 1804, when, from tlie fearful epidemic that prevailed, it was necessarily 
omitted, and was never again held. It was a common opinion that the Duke 
of Kent interdicted these loyal anniversaries, but such was not the ease. The 
last one was held in September, 1803, after his Koyal Highness had been re- 
called from Gibraltar. 





Company divided into two-NHmerous discharges-Cause of the men hecom- 
i«K so soon ineiTective-Fourth augmentation -Labourers-Recruiting, 
reinforcements-Dismissal of foreign artificers-Wreclc of bng ' Mercury 
-Uniform dreis-Working ditto-Names of officers-Pnvileges-Cave 
under the signal house. 
Os the 30th June the Duke of Richmond divided the company 
into two, owincr to the professional duties of the Qiief Engineer 
rendering it Impracticable for him to pay proper attention to 
the discipline and interior management of so large a body. 
The two senior officers at the fortress were appointed to take 
immediate charge of these companies, and each was atithorized 
to receive an allowance of 5GL 10s. per annmn in lieu of all 
charges for repair of arms, &c.' Tlie (Jhief Engineer, never- 
theless, continued in command of both companies. In the 
estimates, however, anmially presented to Parliament, the corps 
was not recognized as being formed into two companies, possibly 
with a view to prevent the members of the House of Commons 
beincr drawn into a profitless debate upon a fancied attempt to 
incrc^ase the corps ; a debate which, very likely, would not have 
been productive of compliments to his Grace, as by his exten- 
sive but lately rejected schemes for national defence he had 
made himself in some respects obnoxious to the House and to 
the country. 

By this time there were many men in the corps, who from 
length of service and other causes were no longer fit for the 

1 This sum seems to bo a sort of standing e-iuivalent, and has existed without 
uUeration, through all the changes of advanced or reduced prices m material 
and labour, to the present day. 




duties of the department ; and there were others, also, who from 
continued miscor duct were worthless and burdensome. Captain 
Evelegh, returning to England about this period, lost no time 
in making the Duke of Richmond acquainted with the state of 
the companies, and of advising the discharge of all who were 
inadecjuate to their pay. His Grace at once acquicscea, and 
the companies being well weeded, eighty-two men were dis- 
charged during the winter and ensuing spring. 

Tn so young a corps, scarcely fourteen years embodied, it 
might occasion some surprise why so many men became in- 
effective in so short a time. The reason is obvious. At all 
periods since the formation of the corps, the demands for mecha- 
nics of good qualification were urgent. Under thirty years of 
age men could seldom be had from the line, whose services 
were worth acceptance, being either irregular in conduct, or 
possessing but little pretension to ability as tradesmen. Me- 
chanics were therefore generally received at thirty-five to 
forty-five, and oftentimes at the bald age of fifty. Neither age 
nor height was an insuperable disqualification, provided the 
candidate for transfer or enlistment possessed sufficient stamina 
for a few years' hard wear and tear. It was r.!;i, therefore to 
be expected that they could serve long in tlie companies, more 
especially, as, the works of the fortress being always I'nportant 
and pressing, the men were obliged to labour zealously to meet 
the exigency, exposed to all the fitful and depressing changes 
of wind and temperature. 

In the course of the interview with the Duke of Richmontl, 
Captain Evelegh proposed that an augmentation of 41 labourers 
siiould be made to the companies. Of the necessity for this his 
Grace was not so well persuaded, for knowing the ready dis])o- 
sition of the Governor of Gibraltar to provide men, at all times, 
for the services of the works, he felt assured that no d'fliculty 
would be found in obtaining any nimiber required from the 
line, on a proj)er representation of their need being made. He 
would not therefore sanction tlie measure ; but, as his Grace 
was aware, from the extent of the works in progress, that the 
demand for mechanics was very great, and as lie was moreover 




much averse to the employment of civil artificei-s, he considered 

it would be a far greater public benefit to increase the corps 

with mechanics than labourers, lie therefore, in September, 

took upon himself the respimsibility of augmenting the com- 

j)anies with forty one masons and bricklayers, which fixed the 

strength of the corps as under : — 

1 Sergeant-major. 
10 Sergeants, 
10 Corporals. 
4 Drummers. 
2.50 Private artificers. 

Total 275 

Each company was to consist of 137 non-commissioned officers 
and men. 

llis Grace, moreover, ordered that such of the artificer as 
were not sufficiently skilful at their trades, to the number of 
forty, were to Iw employed as labourei-s, if required, but he did 
not contcmiplate that any such could be found in the corps. 
From this slight innovation, however, soon after followed the 
authorized enlistment of labourers as a jjart of the establish- 
ment, — a measure not in any sense welcomed by the old arti- 
ficers, who conceived they were losing caste and j)osition by the 

Means for obtaining transfers and recruits at Gibraltar were 
now considerably straitened. The Duke of Richmond, there- 
fore, undertook to furnish the number authorized to be added 
to the corps, and to supply the constantly-recurring casnilties. 
Upon this duty his Grace employed several officers of engineers 
in the manufacturing districts of England and Scotland. 
Captain Rudyerd was the chief recruiting officer in North 
Rritain, and he seems to have been tlie most successful in 
obtaining recruits. Married men'* with families were not 

' The regulation with regard to the wives and t'umilies of recruits going to 
Gibraltar, as established by the Duke of liichnioud, is sufficiently curious, by 
comparison with the present very limited system, to be mentioned here. On 
the 9th September, lT8«i, the Duke arranged that to every 20 men, 10 women 
and 10 children should be allowed to accompany them. If there were n\ore 
tiian that number with the party, lot.s were to be drawn, and those who did not 




debarred from enlistment, if their personal appearance and 
talents as tradesmen were favourable. More attention was now 
paid to age than heretofore ; and none were received over thirty- 
five years old, unless under extraordinary circumstances. The 
bounty allowed to each candidate was 13/. 13s. 6d. 

Five batches^ of recruits, numbering in the whole 183 arti- 
ficers, were sent to the Rock in rapid succession ; but as they 
were long in annving, it was considered expedient to hire civil 
artificers from Portugal and Italy to expedite the works. How- 
ever desirable it might have been to adopt this course, tlic 
Duke of Richmond disapproved of it. lie had always a great 
aversion to the engagement of civil artificers, wliethcr from 
England or from places on the Continent, arising from the 
great expense attending tlieir employment and their general 
irregular conduct. His Grace, therefore, ordered that the 
foreign artificers should be discharged on the arrival of the 
recruits, which was accordingly done. 

Of the second party of recruits, it may be permitted to tiike 
a more than passing notice. It was composed of 58 men, all 
mechanics, " in the prime of life," under cliarge of sergeant 
Sherritt', accompanied by their wives, 28 in number, and 12 
children — in all 101 persons. Tliey embarked at Leith on the 
21st September, <m board the brig ' Mercury,' Thomas David- 
son, master. The crew consisted of 11 men. The ship sailed 

jrain prizes wore to find their own passages; tlie lots were not to divide 
fiimilies, but were to lie drawn by the men until the number allowed ■■'•ag com- 
pleted. If encouragement had been given to any men to hope that their 
families would be provided with passages, the bargain was to be faithfully 
adhered to. 

" Of the following strength : — 

21 men inth Sept. 1780, embarked on board the 'New Ku- 
phrales,' and landed Mh Oct. 
21st .Sept, 1780, embarked at Leith, on board the brig 

' Mercury.' Wrecked 24th Sept. 
eth Nov. 1780, embarked in the 'Adventure;' landed, 
23rd Mar. 1787; landed. 
15th and IG Apr. 1787; landed. 



Total 183 ,, About 1(11) of this number were bricklnyers and masons, 
^— the crafts most required at the Uock. 





with a fair wind ; but on the 23rd, when nearing the coast of 
Flanders, she was greatly buffeted by a boisterous gale. At three 
o'clock on the morning of the 24th, Sunday, the steeple of Ostend 
was recognised, and, accordingly, the course of the vessel was 
shaped towards the chops of the channel. A storm now set in, 
and as danger was apprehended, the captain and crew were 
anxious and vigilant. Skill and exertion, however, were of no 
avail, for at seven o'clock in the evening she struck upon a 
sand-bank, about six miles off Dunkirk. The wind continued 
blowing hard to the north, while the sea, " running mountains 
high," dashed the frail bark to and fro with a fury that 
broke her masts, destroyed her bulwarks, and tore her sails to 
shreds. At nine o'clock she went to pieces, and melancholy to 
add, all on board perished but three. The survivors were John 
Patterson, ship's carpenter ; Walter Montgomery, blacksmith ; 
and Daniel Thomson, mason. The two latter were recruits. 
On fragments of the wreck they floated all night, and at ten 
o'clock next morning, Patterson and IMontgomery, just ready to 
relinquish their hold from cold and exhaustion, were picked up 
by a pilot-boat and taken on shore at Dunkirk. The other 
sufferer, Thomson, was found some hours after in the surge, 
helpless and shivering, clinging to a spar. At once he was 
convoyed to jMardyck, three miles to the westward of Dunkirk, 
where he only lived a few days. Of Walter IMontgomery 
nothing further is known. As at the time he was reported to 
be very ill, and not likely to recover, he probably died at the 
place where he was given an asylum.* 

No infonnation can be obtained relative to the drcas of the 
comj)anies until 1786.^ TImx, the unifonn was a plain red 

* ' Morning Chronicle,' 10th October, 178C, and periodical press generally. 
In most of the papers Daniel Thomson is, by mistake, named Daniel Campbell. 

Fifteen bodies were washed ashore between Nienport and Ostend, on the 27th 
and UStii September, and it is not a little remarkable that, of this small number, 
no less \\\SLnfiiuriccn should have been those of women. — ' General Advertiser.' 
' Public Advertiser,' 'Jth October, 178U. 

' I have been informed that previously to 178C, the coat was somewhat 
similar in colour, cut, and oriiajuent to that shown in Plate I., but that the 
breeches were blue instead of Mhite. The black leggings were banded above 
the knee. The working dress consisted of a long duck frock, and mosquito 




coat, double-breasted, with two rows of large flat brass buttons 
down tlic front, placed at equal distances of two inches apart. 
The buttons were one inch and a quarter in diameter, and bore 
the Ordnance device of three guns and three balls. The left 
breast buttoned over the right at the j)it of the chest, from 
which upwards the coat turned back in the form of lapj)els. 
The cuffs and collar were orange-yellow, laced round with 
narrow red ferreting. The collar was turned over like the 
common roll collar, and was ornamented with a red recfain- 
gular loop at each side. Down the front of the coat to the 
end of the skirts, narrow yellow ferreting was sewn, as well 
as upon the inside edges of the skirts, which were very broad, 
descending to the leggings, and were buttoned back at the 
bottom to show the white shalloon lining. Small plaited frills 
about five inches long, were worn at the breast, to the right ; 
and full ruffles at the wrists. Over the black leather stock, a 
white false collar fell down about an inch. The waistcoat was 
white cloth, bound with yellow ferreting-, and came well down 
over the abdomen. A t the bottom, it was cut so that the angle 
or corner of each front separated about seven inches. The 
pocket-holes were slashed ; each slash was two inches deep, and 
bound round. Tlie buttons were small and flat, similar in device 
to the coat-buttons. The breeches were white, of a texture like 
kerseymere, and secured below the knee with three small buttons. 
The leggings were black cloth, reaching to the knee and strapped 
under the shoe ; they buttoned on the outside, and were fas- 
tened to a small button above the calf of the leg. The buttons 
were like those worn on the waistcoat. The hat was cocked, 
the same as that commonly worn ; the cock was in the front, 
directly over the nose, with a cockade to the right of it suj)- 
porting a black feather. In other respects it was quite ])lain. 
The arms and accoutrements consisted of white leather cross- 
belts, black cartouch-box with frog, and musket and bayonet.'' 

trowscrs with gaiters attached. Everything was white even to the felt round 
hat, which at this period had the military symhols of a yellow band and yellow 
edge to the brim. Serge pantaloons were worn in winter. 

" The sergeant-major and sergeants were armed with carbines and 


















AM) MlNKIts. 

Thf brcHHt-plate wa- >"< t««nng the Oj'dnanco ii«vi( c : ahuvc 


the \m\\h wax tin- vv 

.AuTlPiCEKK. Th. 

a (ilaiii f^uard ofoi • 
tinitiona with rep«^ 
iiiul clothiiiir of 
(oate were kor^" 
they also wort 
and lac«d fi»>u 
cotton ftirrnt'i!;^' , >i 

lAR; h<>W the ftfuiis S<Ji.i>licn- 

.) rtwonls, «iiviT-nionnt<«d, with 

a«wl, whitA' IfatluT. ThtMiis- 

.(•ii- ,1,- tiiiow- rhi* scrgi-aiif» 

ic; tht'ir hroec'iios and wuiHt- 

ice (Ml thoir oofit« was jjold • 

..ifh frtMtwIh, under their coats. 

or niidis woro linen or 

ai- )■!((! iToid fririj^ed ulMtiildor- 

- t>5U' ijiild knot oil t!i;> rlalit, 

knots, and tiie lanco > ' ' 
whoidder.' • (Plato I.) 

The w<)rking-dros<.« was a plain iony rod jacket m winter, and 



H linen ono \ > iin'" 

wide .-. . ' ! 

from tiH) t)h«K 

downi wards to ■cv' i 

.'iivh fiilif V^a,-" a ii'.,.'' ,.im .,, i . . ,r;i . . 

collar and out! . l yellow o.loti' ■ 

or voUwi, aiul at tl«c oiihII of the Iwuk i^'i • i*** iaiu<' butiou.s. 

f 'luler the jacket a waiotcoat v.aij w(»n» lu suiunier linen, ni 

winte .iannel— :of tlie same cut as Uw reffiin.jntal'one, but not 

laced or ferreted. Similat in mate the pantaloonn: 

and to thesti were Httaciie'! ' ' ' ' r.'t •■- 

(li'th, c»rr88fK>iidinM with t 

above tlic, aiik St , aid bnit.. .:; 

regard vi-flit {«twl to llie neik co. i ; 

velvet, or silk, or black handkerci i . 

u;t«i, A white hat rcmplcted the sii 

inches hiph, had a atraiglut polo witli yellow batiii 

width, ji'id u broad lirim fd^ied with ydlow tajn 

' This norel way of distinfiuishiii* the noii eomiiii^si" 
(|aeDt luisfoiicuplioii «uil mistake ii» llic gtirrisin \" 
t«yonpt belt '>nly, strangers rcsiiiJed !hfi eorjMitP.i-. t 
{fljj ■••-<^ori)oral.s the next. Aimetinies wlmn tikini' > 
«;i (a have- presented uriiis to them, and guard" ■ > 

the ewi^fliment diit! to field officers! fids mili' .: ii 

greater or Imh •diSfrTaucc, until the adoptioi) nt' <■•■■ 
VOh. I. 





i - 

^^ "*s^s^;^" 







■ w 

<^- [ 

^^^ ^>' 

•■..... i.;.. *:»* 

-.V , - i^i. 

' -, • -; a- :* ■ 




The hrpiist-plato wns oval, bearing the Ordnnnce device : above 
the balls was the word CfiiiiiAl/TAR; below the guns Soliuku- 
AuTtFirKiis. Tile sergeants had swords, silver-mounted, with 
a plain guard of one bar only ; tassel, white leather. The dis- 
tinctions with regard to ranks were as follows : the sergeants 
had clothing of a superior fabric ; their breeches and waist- 
coats were kerseymere ; the lace on their coats was gold ; 
they also wore a crimson sash with tassels, under their coats. 
and laced shoulder-straps. All the other ranks wore linen or 
cotton ferreting ; but the corjiornls had gold fringed shoulder- 
knots, and the lance corporals one gold knot on the right 
shoulder.' (Plate I.) 

'I'lie working-dress was a plain long red jacket in winter, and 
a linen one in summer, with a single row of large brass buttons, 
wide apart, down the front. It descended to the hij)s, opened 
from the chest upwards to show the shirt, and from that point 
downwards to show the waistcoat. (Convenient to the hand on 
each side was a huge pocket covered with a broad slash, 'riie 
collar and cuffs were of yellow cloth, the former turned over 
or rolled, and at the small of the back were two large buttons. 
Under the jacket a waistcoat was worn — in summer linen, in 
winter flannel — of the same cut as the regimental one, but not 
laced or ferreted. Similar in material were the pantaloons ; 
and to these were attached a pair of black gaiters, of linen or 
cloth, corresponding with the season. They reached a little 
above the ankle, and buttoned on the outside. No particular 
regard was paid to the neck covering. Stocks of leather, or 
velvet, or silk, or black handkerchiefs, were indiscriminately 
used. A white hat completed the suit. It was about six 
inches high, had a straight \w\e with yellow band of an inch in 
width, and a broad brim edged with yellow tape or ferreting. 

' This noTpl way of distinpiiishiiig the non-Cdminissiont'd officers k'd to fre- 
quent miscouception and mistake in the gurrison. When dressed witli the 
bayonet belt only, strangers regarded the corporals as the highest rank, and 
lance-corporals the next. Sometimes when taking an excursion into Spain, 
sentries have presented arms to them, and guards even have turned out to pay 
the compliment due to field officers ! This military blunder continued, with 
greater or less observance, until the adoption of chevrons, about \S()5. 
VOL. I. B 



' 1787. 

Plate 11. Tho di'scrij)tion of working-dross worn by tlic; non- 
ce inmissioned officers has not been ascertained, nor can any 
record bo discovered of the i)recisi^ unifornt dross adopted for 
the drnmmcrs, or of the peculiar badge that distinguished the 
sergeant-major from otlier sergeants. 

The only complete record that has turned up to research, 
showing the names of the officers who were attached to tho com- 
panies since tho year 1772, is a return for 1787, by which it 
seems tho following (jfficers did duty with them : — 

Captain Robert Pringle, chief engineer. 

Captain William Campbell Skinner, died i.-lth April, 1787. 

First Lieutenant, Thomas Skinner. 

First Lieutenant, ^N'illiam Kerstiman. Joined asth May, 1 7S7. 

Second Lieutenant, Thomas Smart. 

Second Lieutenant, Samuel T. Dickens. 

Draughtsman, James Evans." 

About tl'.is time, it appearing to bo of some consequence to 
cut and form a ditch immediately under the Oillon I?attery, 
situated on the south flank of the King's, Prince's, and Queen';;- 
Lines, a strong party was set to work by order of the Cliief 
Engineer. Thoy executed their laborious task in a compara- 
tively short period, which <.>licitod the wannest jmiises of 
General 0'IIar.i. To mark his sense of their services, how- 
ever, in a form more gratifying than wordi;, he gave ])ermis8ion 
to the companies to pass to tho neutra ground, and out of 
garrison, on Sundays and all holidays without a written pass, or 
restraint of any kind. With this privilege was also conceded 
the liberty to appear on such occasions in whatever ap|)arel 
their fancy suggested, except in their unifonn coats. It vva.s 
not uncommon, therefore, for the non-connuissioned officers 
and the respectable poi-tion of tho privates, to stroll about the 
garrison or ramble into Spain, 'Iressed in black t^ilk or s<»tin 
breeches, whiti^ silk stockings, and silver knee or shoe-buckles, 
drab bt^ver hats, and scarlet jackets, tastefully trimmed with 
white kerseymere. 

(jiovernor O'llara was a constant visitor at the works, and 

^ Thi'sc (itiicei's were also present with the corps in 1788; but atVr that 
year until 17'.t7 no record has been discovered. 





took much interest in their prof^ress. Kven aa ejirly as the 
morning gun-fire, he was i)oranibulating the fortifications and 
batteries, and wonning his way an,'.!;.r tlie mechanics. Almost 
to the hist man, he could call each b} name, and knew the Ix'st 
artificers too well ever to forget them. Familiar with their 
zeal and exertions, he regretted sometimes to find that a few 
men were absent from the works undergoing sentences of con- 
finement to the barracks. This induced the General to relax a 
liul(! in strictness towards the companies. None of the men 
would he suffer to be punished for intoxication, or other slight 
oflfiences committed when off dutv or on the works, in order 
that lie might have them all employed. This slackening the 
Hiins would, no doubt, be looked u])on now-a-dtays as a mon- 
strous and culpable dereliction, however plausible might be the 
object intended to be gained by it. To justify or condemn the 
act is obviously out of place here. It is simply raer'^ioned as a 
fact ; and while it remains a singularity in military jurisjmi- 
dence, the main jxiint that originated it must not be over- 
looked, viz., the estimation in which the Governor held the corps 
for their services in the restoration or improvement of the works 
of the fortress.'^ 

In enlarging the works of the garrison, the military artificin-s 
fretpiently 0|)ened up cavities in the promontory which were 
mostly of sufficient interest to excite the curiosity of geologists ; 
but one discovered in 17811, by some miners of the corps, while 
scarping the back of the liock, attracted, at the time, unusual 
attention. It was situated about IGO feet from the foot of the 
cliff, on its eastern side, nearly under the Signal House, and its 
extent classed it among some of tiie largest within the area of 
the fortress. Removing the rank vegetr.rion which had over- 
grown its mouth, a small chasm was bared, opening into a cave 
containing several chambers and yrottoi's, entered by narrow 
funnel-shaped crevici s, some so low and winding that ingress 

" This laxity of (iiscipliiiL' sooms, in tiini', to have boeoiiiu goiural aiuoiij/: 
the troojis at the fortress, and the extent to which it carriid both l)y 
officers and men was little short of disgraceful. — ' Wilkie's liritish Colonies 
considered as Military Posts,' in ' United Service .lournal,' '2, 1840, p. .'(79. 

K 2 




could only be obtained by crawling through the long misty 
passages on all-fours. Seemingly, the roofs were supported by 
a number of pillars, which the dripping of ages had congoaiv^d 
into all sliapes and sizes and into all degrees of hardness, frnn 
patches of soft silvered powder to the bold indurated coiiunnar 
stalactite. On the floors, at different heights, were stalagmites, 
some peering uj) like needles, and others, swollen and grotesque, 
rose from frothlike eushions of delicate finish, which, "on being 
rudely touched, dissolved instantly into water." The hall at the 
extremity was divided into two oblong recesses, floored by ,i 
" deep layer of vegetable earth," where not a clumj) of the 
lowliest weed or a blade of grass was seen to show that vigour 
was in the eart'..'" Nothing seemed ca])able of living there but 
a colony of bats, some flapping about on lazy wing, and others 
torpid ; no process to be active, but the cold one of petrifaction, 
which, in nature's own confused method, had elaborated through- 
out the cavern, columns and pinnacles and cushions, jinflTs and 
concretions, some as fleecy as snow, others as crisp as hoar- 
fi*ost, and others of an opal hue as transi)arent as crystal. All 
was rich, beautiful, and sparkling. It was a marvel to 
adventurers, but unfit for habitation ; yet, in later years, this 
hole of the mountain was possessed by a Spanish goat-herd, who 
reached his solitude by the same threadlike but dangerous 
tracks as his goats. There might the recluse ha^e lived till his 
bones fell among the j)etrifactions, but he was at length ex- 
pelled from its gloomy precincts on account of his contraband 

'» Martii's British Colonies, 1835, p. fil-.M. 





C.iUmel Debbiejt's proposal for organizing a corps of artificers— Kejeotod — 
Einploynieiit of urtillcrynieii on the works at lionu- — Diike of Richmond's 
" KxtiMisive ;)lan!-, of fortification "—Formation of corps ordered- Sinpnlar 
silence of the House of Coninions on tlie sntiject — Mr. Sheridan calls atten- 
tion to it — Insertion of corps for first time in the Mutiny Hill — Debate 
upon it in both Houses of Parliament. 

WiiKN Spain (liH'lari'd war with Kiifflaiul in Juno, 177!», 
l.,i'Mit('i)ant-('()l()iit'l IIii<rh l)(>l)l)i('<>- of tlio iMigiiieors, .soonis to 
have lieon impressed with the iieeossity of raising a corj)s of 
artiticers for service in this country. He had made several 
exciu'sions through Kent and a ])art of Sussex, no doubt with 
the object of ascertaining tlie ])robal)iiities that existed fur 
resisting any attempt at imasion. Wiiether such was his 
intention or not, these i)rofessional tours appear to have assisted 
his views greatly, in all that was essential to })repare the 
coinitry to repel aggression, lie therefore made large demands 
for cutting tools; conceiving, as he states, " very extensive 
ideas of their use in all cases," and reonimended the formation 
of a corps of artiticcnv. In his letter to (ieueral Lord ,\mherst, 
of the yOtli Jul), 177!>, he wrote: " 1 nmst take the liberty of 
mentioning how very advantageous to the service it woidd be, 
if a c(.r))s of artitic(>rs was to be selected from the army. The 
present establishment c/f pioneers to each regiment will ])rove in 
no sufficient or equal to the ptirpose of advancing an army 
through such a country fis this." 

As if to show that liis proposal was no v-rude idea, nor the 
dreamy suogestion of some nceillcssly-aiarmed engineer, the 
Colonel dip|)ed a little into tiie iiistory of tlie suiiject, to claim 




respect for it on the trrouiul of its iuitiquity, and jjointed out 
the way in which the nieasnre could be effected, lie pay;*, 


;)f the 

to th' 


:vt attention ot ttie aneients to tnis ])articuiar was 
wonderful, and the highest ])o'.it of ])erfection in the Roman 
legion was, that when it made detachments, thou<rh ever so 
small, they carried with them a just proportion ;>f the compo- 
nent parts of its excellent system — artificers of all denomina- 
tions. i\rodern armies differ from those of the ancients scarcely 
in nothing hut the arms they use ; in all other points, wiM'annot 
imitate them too exactly. I am sensible the subject is not 
new to yoiu" lordshij), and if it did not strike me as a thing 
absolutely necessary for the good of Ills ^lajesty's service, par- 
ticularly at this time, I should not have troubled your lordsliip 

" It is a most essential part of the soldiers' dutv I allow, to 
be as expert as possible at covering themselves with earthworks ; 
but then, there is also a necessity for a band of leading men 
capable of instructing others, and of conducting works with 
more regxdarity than has been usually done where I iiave yet 
been upon service, as also with gi'cater disjiatch. 

" I will not presume to point out to your lordship the means 
of establishing such a cor])s, nor how far two men per company 
would go towards making it numerous enough for the jmrpose 
from the militia alone : but I will venture to say, had such a 
body of men been constantly here, these lines (Chatham) would 
have been nearly completed ; and you know what state they arc 
in at present." 

(Colonel Debb'eg's attem])t to revive an old practice, consti- 
tuting one of the military glories of the ancients, was certainly 
wortiiy of tlk 1 ■ "^ ■'ttenti(Hi, involved as England was at the 
time in a struggle with France and Spain : and it would have 
been more so, had allusion been niadi; to the beneficial services 
<)f the companies at CJibraltar Oniittiuii- this is sinLrnhu' 
enough, and readl'_\ urges the .<\"p])osition, that their name and 
duties were scarcely known b(>yond the scarps of the Hoek, 
even to the engineers thenisehcs. However, T-onI Amherst, 
nmel) as he may have appieciated the represented perfection of 




tlie Iloiiian legion in the org.anization of its rletarlimcnts, was 
not by any meansi clisjxjsc'd to incur tlie rosponiibility of repro- 
ducing that system in t'le English army; and on the 11th 
August following comnuniicai<ul his sentiments on tlie subject 
to the Colonel. " Your idea," writes his lordship, " about 
forming a corps of artificers from the army, is a very good one, 
as far as that such a corps would be very desirable ; but at 
a time when it is a material subject of consideration to increase 
the army by every possii)le means, the forming such a corps 
cannot be thought of. In the case (jf any service bajjpening 
in this country, the genen'.i business of the jiioneers must 
be done by the able-bodied men amongst the peasants of the 

His lordship here confesses the desirableness of the measure, 
out at the same time repudiates it as inexj)edient, Itccause the 
army re(|uires to be increased I No rejoinder or explanation 
appeal's to have been made by (Colonel Debbieg; and the pro- 
l)osal, somewhat modified, was left to be iterated at a subsequent 
period by Charles, third Duke of Richmond. 

On the appointment of the Shelburne administration in 
July, 17S3, his Grace was nominated JSraster-General of the 
Ordnance. Immediately jvfter his installation, he caused the 
fortifications to be examined, and finding they were in such a 
state as to nt'cd the intervention of the House of (.'omnions 
to put them in repair and eomi)leteness, he demanded large 
sums of money for the purpose in the Ordnance estimates for 

His Grace's projects were on a scale of great magnitude, and 
his estimates were neci'ssarily large ; but in order to cnrtnil the 
amounts as much as possible, and thus win tlie conciiiTence of 
liotli parties to bis plnns, be proposed to ein|(loy a considerablo 
part of the royal artillery as artificers and lalxinrers in the 
arsenal at Woolwicli, Purfieet, and the out])orts, giving them 
only half the wages then i)aid to civil nierhanics for perform- 
injr similin" work, whereby it was computed that a saving of 
12,(l(Hi^. til ir),()()()/. a-year would bo realized, and tliiit the 
services of the ordnance being more regularly performed, the 



i 17b5. 

regiment would luivo a body of artificers, always available for 
active duty in the event of a war, for which they would be 
mudi required.' There was nothing in this suggestion to 
excite alarm or ])articular remark. No new cg.'])s was rc- 
couuncndcd to l)e raised, but simply the iidaj)tation of means 
already disposable (which would have to l)e maintained under 
any circumstances) to a twofold object, as also to ligliten tl\e 
existing pressure upon the iinances of the State. The proposal, 
being merely incidental to the graver matter vvitli whicli it 
stood connected, gave rise to no discussion ; and it is presumed, 
though no si)ecitic organization of artificers such as his Grace 
contemplated took place, that artillery soldiers were employed 
in great numbers at the different stations mentio'x'd in his 
Grace's famous rej)ort. 

AVith the change of ministry in April, 1783, the Duke of 
Richmond quitted his post as Master-General ; but resumed it 
again in the following December on the formation of the Pitt 
("abinet The fortifications continued to be his Grace's hobby. 
Yearly he requested large sums for the erection of new works 
and the repair of old ones. Consequently, public attention 
wjis excited to review these apparently exorbitant items of ex- 
})euditure, iuid, as may be expected, very little was done towards 
effecting his Grace's views. Money was voted for the purpose, 
but none was expended. 

In 1785, his Grace's plans for national defence were more 
extensive tlian eviM', and were brought forward as usual by Mr. 
Pitt. Though anxious to carry out the gigantic proj(u;ts pro- 
posed, still, fnmi the growing inqiiisitiveness of the country, 
and jmibably the misgivings of the .Mini>ter liim>('H' as to their 
nuiturity and utility, Mr. Pitt submitted them tor the npjniou 
of a lioard of general and flag officers. (Jiiided by thulf' 
reconnnendation, he again introduced tlu" subject for the con- 
sideration of the House, but on the 27tli I'ebruaiy, 1 7(S((, it 
WHs rejected by the casting voice of the Speaker as a " measure 
totally inexpedient and dangerous." 

In no way di>courageil, however, on the I7th May following, 

' •.louriuil, Housu of t'dimuoii.s,' 1 Uli Kcbniary, ITH.'t; vol. xxxix. |i. -Jiis. 






he ventured to submit a similar question to the House con- 
sidenibly reduced in its denumds. l?ut us the subject of the 
fortifications had lonjr been before the public, had also been 
well investigated, and was extremely unj)o])ular both in the 
House and out of it, it may occasion no wonder to state, that 
the Duke's favourite scheme was again set aside ; and its noble 
projector, subjected to repeated and vexatious disappointments, 
was made a butt for the keen attacks and provoking taunts of in- 
dividuals, who scru})led not to lay bare his Grace's engineering, 
and to question his Grace's professional attainments. In this 
last defeat, however, somi; little concession was made to Mr. Pitt, 
by wliich he was permitted to make an estimate for improving 
and c()mj)leting tlie old works at Portsmouth and Plymouth 
dockyards, which on being presented was ultimately agreed to.^ 
In the diminished estimate for 178G the amount asked 

« If a particular acquaintance with the Duke's plan of defence, &c., be 
(lesireil, it can be obtained by referring to a worit eutitUil ' Observations on 
the Duke of liiclnuond's Extensive Plans of Fortificaf; m.' published first in 
ITS,"), and again in 179+. This work, which was brought In fore tiie public in 
an anonymous form, is known to have been written by Lieutenant .lames 
Glenie, of the engineers, wlio, after serving in the corps a few years, was 
compelled, as he says, p. -J+l, to leave it, "to avoid being ruined by the 
expense of continually moving from one station to another." The attack 
made by this gentlemau appears to Iiave been conducted with much force and 
talent, displaying an intimate aeiiuaintance with the principles of his ])rofis- 
sion. It made a great impression on the public mind, and augmented to a 
considerable extent the popular ferment against the new fortifications. Sev^-al 
of the enginetrs jnined in opinion against them, among whom was Colonel 
Dibhieg, who, for some expressions that he ventured, retleciing upon the 
Duke's plans, was tried by a (Jcneral Court-martial in 178!). In the con- 
cluding paragraph of tlie later edition of Mr. (ilenie's essay, the author 
prondsed (o Inlie an early opporlunily of delivering his sentiments at full 
length respecling tlie corps of royal military arllfieers and horse artillery, 
which, he stated, were un([ueslionably great imimsilions on the public; but 
the promiseil (.i/n-c I have not succeeded in procuring. If it never appeared, 
the gallant oHicer, very p.ob.ilily. piudeatly ivlimiuished the idea, or suppressed 
the MS., from a conviction that it was as unnecessary as unmerited. It is 
certainly curious ihat Mr. (ileuie and Colonel Debbieg, wlio were the most 
violent and persevering of the Dukes opponenLs, should have differed in 
opinion about the usefulness and importance of the coips of artificers. Hy the 
only evidence as yet discovered, it is obvi(JU« lhat Mr. (ilenie would willingly 
have disbainled it ; Colonel Debbieg, on the other hand, only a few years 
before aspired to the honour of originating it. 




was quite iiiiuleiiuiitc to ort'ci't the purposes desi>!iu'(l ; and to 
enable his Oi'mcc the better to acconi])lisb tluMn, be sufriiested 
to Mr. Pitt the necessity of raisinjr a corps of military artificers 
on the model of tlie companies employed at (Gibraltar. J']x])e- 
rience had demonstrated beyond all dispute their excellency as 
artificers and soldiers, and the economy of their services. lIi; 
had watched and studied their discipline and advantajj^e for 
some years, and with these incentives, be felt no hesitation in 
urijinji: their inimediatt; formation. Better reasons could 
scarcely have been desired by Mr. Pitt, who readily gave his 
assistance in obtainintr a warrant from the Kin<jf to sanction the 
measure. He did not attempt, however, to enlij^hten the 
House upon the matter before ai)])ealing to His Majesty, 
knowinfT that it would be treated with unmerited distrust, and 
probably crushed under a weifrht of ])r(>judice and misconcep- 
tion. Strictly sjieaking, there was nothing unconstitutional 
in this manner of proceeding ; it was warranted by many 
precedents, but it gave rise in a subsequent session of Par- 
liament to some observations which required Mr. Pitt to 
explain his conduct in the affair. The warrant was signed 
on the lOth October, 1787. 

The Ordnance estimates for that year were not brougiit 
forward until a late hour on the lOtb December ; and, as but 
little time was afforded for discussing their merits, and par- 
ticularly the novel measure of embodying a corps of military 
artificers, a motion was made that their consideration should 
be adjourned to the next day. It was lost by a large majority, 
and the sums asked for were voted vlthout debate. 

In this vote was involved the formation of tlie corps. 
That a measure on so extraordinary a princii)le, and so 
hateful to the sentiments of the coinitry generally, should have 
piissed without scrutiny is remarkable ; but Mr. Sheridan, on 
the 17th December following, thinking that tiie estimates were 
inq)rudently hurried through the House, introduced them 
again to notice. At the same time he endeavoured to bring 
the suggestion of raising a corps of mechanics into contempt. 
He called the ])roject singular and extraordinary ; ridiculed 





the idea of putting tho artilicers under martial law, and 
thereby to abridge their liberty. Moreover, he did not con- 
eeive that men, ca])able of earning hiilf-a-crown a-day, would 
eidist ius soldiers and work in their res])ei'tive occupations at 
one-third of that sum for the mere douct!ur of military dis- 
cipline. Then, with regard to the economy of the measin*e, 
he remarked, "That in the report of 17!S;5, the Master-General 
had stated, that by suffering some of the artificers at \Vot)l- 
wich, Sheerness, &c. to be ])Ut into companies, the artillery 
would never want artificers ; and a saving of l,'i,()0()^. would be 
made to Government. Before, therefore, any new plan of 
raising a distinct corps of artilicers was authorized, it would be 
projter to know what the saving made in consequence of t\w 
original plan had amounted to ; because, if no great saving had 
been made, the plan now pro])osed would evidently be attended 
with additional expense to the public."' Mr. Sheridan did 
not embody this subject in his motion. His remarks uj)on it 
were merely incidental to his speech on the intended fortifica- 
tions in the West Indies, and elicited no discussion. The 
Chancellor of the Exchequer replied to Mr. Sheridan ; but he 
spoke only to the motion, and made no allusion whatever to the 
new corps. Thus quietly did the Duke of Richmond gain a 
project, which there was retison to expect would not be granted 
without decided indications of repugnance ami !"istility. 

The scheme, however, though it easily received the a\y- 
])roval of the House of Commons, was doomed, ere long, to 
have a seven; sifting. In both Houses the question was very 
roughly handled by the Oj)position. Had it been brought 
forward as a specific measure at first, it would, in all probability, 
have been rejected or passed by a scanty majority ; but being 
covered by a vaster and more momentous question, it escaped 
observation and slipped through the Connnons concealed under 
the wings of its parent. The time, however, had arrived, when 
the subject, stripped of its covering, should be laid bare, and 
fairly and openly discussed ; but afti'r a wnrm debate, the project 
was agam sanctioned, and the fonnation of the corps confirmed. 
■' DoJslcy's 'Animal Ucgisttr,' 17ti8. Secoml edit., 1790, p. yo. 




A sinninary of the dobiitc, wliich orif^iiifited in the iiitroiliie- 
tion, for the first time, of tlie eiirps of artitieers into tiie Mutiny 
Bill, and which is given in Dodsley's ' Annual Register ' for 
1788,'' is sul)joined. 

"On till! 12th of March, the report of the (Committee on the 
Mutiny Bill was brought up; and on reading tin- clanso for 
incorporating in the army the newly-raised corps of military 
artificers, the same was strongly ohjt-cted to as a dangerous 
innovation, and as militating against the most favoured prin- 
ciples of the constitution. The same system, it was said, might 
next be extended to sbi})wrights, and so on to every descri])tiou 
of j)ersons in the service of the executive govcrncnent ; and 
therefore the House was called upon to repel so alarming an 
innovation //( limine. In defence of the measure it was urged, 
that it would bo attended with an annual saving of 2,0(10/., 
upon an expenditure of 22,000/, ; and that it was necessary to 
extend the military law to the corps in question, as the only 
nu'ans of keeping them together, and preventing their desertion 
of the public service in time of war. 

" This disj)ositiou to adopt a new princi))le of expediency and 
economy, upon a subject which went to the dimimition of the 
liberties of the subject, instead of the old principle of actual 
necessity, was severely reprobated. Several country gentlemen 
declared, that if the House should agree to put GOO I'lnglishmen 
luider martial law, merely for the jialtry consideration of saving 
2,000/. per annum, they would betray their constituents, and 
would be devoid of those feelings for the constitution, which 
ought to make their distinguishing character. It was denied 
that any n'-cessity for so extraordinary a siuTcndcr of the liber- 
ties of a })art of the comnnmity was made out: it having never 
been asserted, nor being indeed true, in fact, tiiat there was any 
diflii'ulty in procuring artificers for the ( )r(luaiice service in 
time of war. The sense of the House being taken on the 
clause, there appeared, ayes 114, noes 67.* 

* Dodsley's 'Annual Register.' Second edit., 1790, pp. \H-\'>.\. 
' Clause i.xxv. Piil)lio Acts, 28 Geo. 111., vol. i., p. .'iti'J. This was not a 
specific clause to meet the case of the aitilicers, but the same which liad existed, 




"The siwimo subject wna a<rain discuwtied on the third reading 
of the Mutiny Bill, when it was asked, wliether any part of the 
corps was already eiiliatc<l and (Mnhodied ? 'i'his question lieing 
answered in the affirmative, it was strongly eonten<lod that the 
authors of the measure liad been guilty of an illegal act, in 
raising a body of men without the consent of Parliament ; and 
that it was a violent and arbitrary measure to subjt'ct those men 
to military law, who at the time of their enlisting, were evidently 
not included in the Mutiny Act. On the other hand, Mr. Pitt 
conten(h'd, that, by a liberal interpretation of the King's prero- 
gative, government was authorized, on the late alarm of war, to 
rais(! tlu^ corps in question : and Sir (."liarli-s Gould, the Advo- 
cate-General, maintained, that every soldier enlisted, became, 
ipKO facto, subject to be tried by martial law. 'I'he llimse 
Jigaiu divided on the rpiestion, ayes 142, noes 70. 

" Uj)ou the commitment of the Bill in the Ui)per House, the 
Duke of Manchester rose and declared his intention of opposing 
the novel clauses that it contained. He was an avowed enemy, 
he siiid, to the extension of military law, luiless in cases of 
absolute neci-ssity ; and that the present Bill went unnecessarily 
to extend that law, by making a number of artificers subject to 
its severe effects, who had hitherto enjoyed their liberty in 
common with their fellow-subjects, (^uld it be proved neces- 
sary for the defence of the kingdom, he should not entertain the 
le;ist objection to the increase of the army ; but in a time of 
profound peace, the adoption of a measure of so singular a 
nature as the present, called for jealousy and caution. 

" The Duke of Richmond entered into a full explanation of 
the plan of which he had been the author. It had occurred to 

witt puisil i) slight variations, since its first insertion in the Act. It merely 
incl nlod the t )rps by name, and made other necessary alterations to embrace 
claM<B of persons heretofore inadvertently omitted. Why it should have 
cause'i so nifh discussion, more especially with reference to the formation of 
the corps is almost marvellous, since a more fitting opportunity was afforded 
for that purpose, when the Ordnance estimates were presented and passed in 
December of the previous year. What were Mr. Sheridan, Mr. t'ourtenay, 
and the other opponents of the Duke of liichmond's schemes about, to allow 
this measure to steal a successful march upon them ? 













|50 "^ ■■■ 

1^ Ui2 |2.2 

H: 1^ ilO 

11.25 i 1.4 












WEBSTER, N.Y. 14580 








hira, he said, that the formation of a rejrular corps of artificers, 
who would in ftiture wars, be applicable to any service when 
wanted, either at home or abroad, could not but be attended 
with very beneficial consequences. In all the annies abroad, 
such a corps made part of those armies, and as their utility was 
unquestionable, he had concluded that there ought to be such a 
corps in our army, and therefore he had considered it as his 
duty to submit the proposition to His Majesty, who had approved 
of it, and it had been since laid before the House of Conmions, 
and voted by that branch of the legislature. With regard to 
putting them in the Mutiny Bill, being a part of the army, en- 
listed regularly as soldiers, like other soldiers, they ought 
undoubtedly to become subjected to the same law, as the policy 
of the State had considered it as right that all soldiers should 
continue in such a state of subordination. At the same time, 
it was not to be considered as any hardship, since no species of 
trial, however popular it might be, was, he believed, more fair 
and omdid than trials by court-martial. He added, that the 
corps of artificers proposed to be formed, was not only highly 
useful, but, at the same time, so far from being an additional 
expense, they would prove a saving, because the difference 
between getting such a number as heretofore, and having them 
fonned into a regular coq)s as intended, would render the usual 
expense less by 2,000^. 

" Lord Porchcster objected principally to that part of the 
new establishment which subjected the artificers to the arbitrary 
punishment of the Master-General of the Ordnance. In one 
instance they might be reduced for want of skill, of which the 
Master-General was made the sole judge, to the rank of 
labourers, and thereby be deprived of one-third of their pay ; 
and in another, he was also the sole judge of the quantum to 
which their pay should be reduced in cases of idleness or mis- 

" Lord Carlisle ridiculed the strange reason given for adopt- 
ing the new project, that it would be a saving of 2,000^. a year. 
If their lordships were to be governed by such arguments, they 
would be led into so absurd a matter as the calculation of what 



tilt! surrender of tlie ri<^hts of the subject was worth per man ; 
and if the rights and liberties of 600 artificers were worth just 
2,000/., they would see that the noble lord valued the rights of 
every individual exactly at 3/. 10«. each. 

" Lord Cathcart and I^rd Rawdon were of opinion, that the 
plan formed by the noble duke would be attended with many 
considerable military advantages ; and the question being at 
length j)ut, the clause was carried without a division. The 
corps now, for the first time, was made legally amenable to the 
provisions of the Mutiny Act; and, for a few years at least, 
W!us permitted to go on with its organization and duties without 
being again noticed or interrupted by the opposition in Parlia- 

' In the protracted debates which occurred in 1788, on the Regency. 
Mr. Sheridan took occasion, when opposing the measure for reserving the 
patronage of the royal household, to attack the Minister — Mr. Pitt, and to 
wing from his how another caustic shaft at the royal military artificers. 
Mr. Pitt, at some previous time, had charged a right honourable friend of 
Sheridan's, on quitting office, " with having left a fortress behind him." 
Sheridan admitted that the accusation was true; "but then," continued he, in 
a vein of sparkling raillery, " like a coarse, clumsy workman, his right honour- 
able friend had built his plan in open day, and retired with his friends, who 
served without pay. • * • Not so the right honourable gentleman over 
the way. Like a more crafty maion he had collected his materials with 
greater caution, and worked them up with abundantly more art. Perhaps he 
had taken the advice of the noble Duke — famous for fortification — and, with 
the aid of that able engineer, had provided a corps of royal military artificers, 
and thrown up impregnable ramparts to secure himself and his garrison. 
Upon this occasion the King's arms doubtless might Ih; seen flying as a banner 
on the top of his fortress, and powerful indeed must prove the effect of the 
right honourable gentlenrin's thundering eloiiuence from without, and the 
support of the royal artitieerg from within, against his political adversaries." 
—Sheridan's Dramatic Works. Sec Life, p. 138. Rohu's edit., 1848. 

The last reference to the military artificers in Parliament was made by 
Mr. Courtenay on the 21st April, 1790, when, moving for a committee to 
inquire into the expenditure of the public monev by the Duke of Richmond 
from the 1st .Tanuary, 1784, he stated, among a /ariety of matter, that the 
corps of which his Grace was the founder, " wt i- neither soldiers nor arti- 
ficers." — ' Gentleman's Magazine,' part a, 1791), vol. fiO, p. 720. This was 
followed, in 1794, by Mr. Glenie, who, in a second edition of his 'Observations,' 
declared that the corps was un(|uestionably a great imposition on the public. 
With this announcement the party crusade against the royal military artificers 





Constitution of corps— Master artificers— Officers— Rank and post of the 
corps— Captains of companies, stations— Allowance to Captains, Adjutants- 
Recruiting— Labourers— " Richmond's whims "—Progress of recruiting- 
Articles of Agreement— Corps not to do garrison duty— Scrgeant-nuijors— 
John Drew— Alexander Spence— Uniform dress- Working dress— Hearts 
o'pipe-clay — "The Queen's bounty"— Arms, &c. — Distinction of ranks 
— .lews' wish. 

The King's authority " for establishing a corps of royal mili- 
fciry artificers," alluded to in the preceding chapter, wiis con- 
veyed in a warrant, dated 10th October, 1787, to (Jharles Duke 
of Richmond. It was to consist of six companies of 1 GO men 
each. The constitution of each company, and the jjay of its 
different ranks were fixed as follows : — 



1 Sergeant-major 




3 Sergeants . . 





4 Corporals . • 





2 Drummers 

Privates — 

Working-pay, in addi- 

12 Carpenters. . 

tion, not exceeding 'id. 

10 Masons . . 

a-day to each non-com- 

10 Hrickiayerg 

> missioned olficer and 

5 Smiths . . ■ 

> each 



man for the days ac- 

5 Wheelers . 

tually employed on the 

4 Sawyers • 


8 Miners 

2 Painters . 

2 Coopers . 

2 Collar-makers 

.. ; t • 

30 Labourers . 




The sergeants consisted of a carpenter, a mason, and a smith, 
who were styled masters ; and the corporals were a master 
bricklayer and a master wheeler, oi^e foreman of miners and a 





foreman of labourers.' Tlie civil master artificers had the offer 
of enlisting and being appointed to these ranks. Those who 
refused were discharged as soon as the military establishment 
was complete. 

Officers of the royal engineers were appointed to command 
the corps. All serving at the particular stations at which the 
companies were forming were attached to do duty with them. 

When required to parade with other rej^ments, the corps 
was directed to take post next on the left of the royal artillery. 
The officers were to fall in with the corps.* 

The Duke of Bichmond located the companies at the prin- 
cipal dockyards or military stations, and ordered the following 
officers to command them : — 

Woolwich — Colonel Robert Morse. 
Chatham — Colonel William Spry. 
Portsmouth — Colonel John Phipps. 
Gosport — Lieut.-Colonel James Moncrief. 
Plymonth — Lieut-Colonel Fred. George Mulcaster. 

One company was ultimately divided between the islands of 
Guernsey and Jersey.* 

The officers above named were the commanding royal en- 
gineers at the respective stations.* To each was allowed iho 

' Thug the higher branches of promotion were reserved to the three first 
classes of tradesmen, and none but men of the latter trades were promoted to 
the rank of corporals. This rule, though enforced as much as practicable, was 
necessarily deviated from in the lapse of a few years for the benefit of the 

" The authority for this was not embodied in the warrant for raising the 
corps, but conveyed in a letter to the Duke of Richmond, dated 10th October, 
1787. With regard to the officers falling in with their companies, it was 
necessary to issue a special order, as, by a previous warrant of the 25th April, 
1787, the royal engineers were to take rank with the royal art 'ery, and to 
be posted on the right or left of that regiment, according to the dates of their 
commissions. At Gibraltar, it was the custom of the companies with their 
officers, to take the right of the artillery; and they were always inserted first 
in the Governor's states and returns. This was a local arrangement occasioned, 
probably, on account of the companies being stationary at the fortress. 

' The companies at Gibraltar, although similarly constituted, paid, and 
officered, remained a distinct and separate body until their incorporation with 
the corps in the year 1 797. 

♦ From this arrangement, it sometimes occurred that even a Mujor-Oeneral 
was ciipUtin of a company. 

VOIi. I. f 




sum of 56Z. per annum for (lefrayinj^ certain incidental items 
connected with his company ; and a lieutenant of enf'inecrs 
was appointed adjutant, with an extra allowance of 28. a-day, to 
assist in conductinpf the drill and in maintaining? discipline. 

The recruitinpr was carried on by the captivins of com])anies, 
assisted by seven other officers of engineers, with several trans- 
fen'cd soldiers of the royal artillery, at Landjruard Fort, 
Tynemouth, Dover, Guernsey, Edinburgh, Fort George, and 
Berwick. They > -ere not restrained from putting into operation 
any measure which seemed to Ije best calculated for obtain- 
ing recruits. There was no standard as to height fixed ; but 
labourers were not enlisted over twenty-five years of age, nor any 
artificer over thirty, unless he had been employed as a mechanic 
in the Ordnance deptirtment, and known to be an expert 
workman of good character. All recruits, however, whether 
previously under the Ordnance or not, were " to be strong 
able-bodied men, free from all infirmity, and duly qualified for 
tlieir several trades and occupations." The miners were all 
got from Cornwall. The bounty given at first was five guineas 
to each attested recruit ; which, on the 21st November, 1787, 
was reduced to the usual peace allowance of three guineas. 

These general instructions for recruiting were soon afterwards * 
nnu!li altered by the Duke of Bichmond, who was anxious to 
make the corps as perfect as possible with regard to tradesmen. 
On the decision of his Grace all the men were afterwards en- 
listtnl as labourers at Gd. a-day. The Iwunty was continued at 
three guineas. Growing lads from sixteen to eighteen years of 
age, not under five feet four inches liig^i, were prefeiTed before 
all others, and were instructed in the trades most required by 
the corps. Over eighteen years of age none were taken less 
than five teet six inches. 

This was a measure of just precaution, as several men had 
.already enlisted as artificers, who up«m a fair trial were found 
to know but little of their craft. The Duke now thought 
to insure his object by enlisting every man !is a labourer, and 
after a few months' exp(*rience of his abilities, promoting him 

" In a letter Iwuring date I9tli Marcli, 1788. 




to be an artificer, or retaining liim as a labourer, until recom- 
niendod for profemicnt. On promotion to artificers, cacli man 
received a bonus or reward of two guineas, an additional 3d. 
a-day jwy, and was distinguished from a lal)ourer by being 
allowed finer clothing and a gold-laced hat." " I think," wrote 
his Grace, " that this method, although the slowest, will in the 
end be the best means of acquiring a good corps of artificers." 
Whatever may have been the result of this change, it shows that 
the Duke was interested in the most trifling concerns of the 
corps ; so much so indeed, that the men were aware of it, and 
familiarly styled his measures and arrangements " Richmond's 

Great exertions were made to give effect to the Duke's orders 
and wishes, particularly at Portsmouth and Plymouth, where 
the dockyards were to be fortified on a plan aj)proved by his 
Grace. About three months after the date of the warrant, uj)- 
wards of 100 men had been enrolled, besides several artificers 
transferred from the royal artillery to form the nucleus of each 
company. The growth of the corps was tardy at fii'st and con- 
tinued dilatory for a year and more ; aft«r which, however, as 
the prevailing prejudices began to die away, greater success was 

As the enlistment of mechanics to work at their trades under 
military discipUne was quite new to the country, the greatest 
care was taken to prevent misconception and complaint. The 
Duke of Kichmond was sensible that both his plans for national 
defence, and for the establishment of a corps to accomplish 
them, were sources of suspicion and watchfulness on the part of 
the Ojjposition in Parliament ; and hence he was cautious, parti- 
cular, and explanatory, even to indulgence. The recruit was 
required to sign certain articles of agieement, showing fully his 
obligations to the service, and those of the public towards him- 
self. Among the terms was prominently placed his engagement 

' For overy labourer promoted, a guinea was grouted to tlie master artificer, 
either civil or militMy, who had the credit of training hiui, as a compensation 
for his services and an encouragement to future exertion, This was sunctioned 
by his (irace in a letter <lated Gfh December, 17'J1. 

I- 2 




" to be liable to all military duties, subject to the articles of 
war, and all other military discipline like other soldiers, and to 
serve in any part of the world to which his Majesty might order 
him." ' 

To protect the companies from beinjjf minccessarily interfered 
with, and to insure their constant employment on the works, 
directions were given to the commandants or governors of the 
different garrisons where they were stationed, not to call uj)on 
tiiem to do any duty that would take them from the public 
works, except in cases of war, internal commotion, or any very 
urgent necessity. Such has been the abiding rule of all gar- 
risons to the present day, and the corps is only expected to 
provide its own essential guards. 

The sergeant-majors were selected from the royal artillery, 
first being recommended as competent to drill and pay a com- 
pany, and able to enforce discipline and maintain order, which 
were the duties they were particularly required to attend to. 
None were tradesmen. Most, if not all, had been in the Ame- 
rican war, had distinguished themselves in action, and were pro- 
moted into the corps as a reward for their services." 

' This agreement was required to be attested by every recruit until about 
the year 1800, when it seems 'to have fallen into disuse. 

" John Drew was one of the sergeant-majors. He was the first soldier that 
entered the English corps of military artificers. On May 1st, 17'J5, he was 
commissioned to be second lieutenant in the invalid artillery, from which he 
retired in March, \H19, and died at Woolwich November 9, 1830. Cue of his 
daughters married the late Richard Byham, Esq., secretary to the honourable 
Hoard of Ordnance. A son — Richard Robinson Drew— attained the rank of 
Major in the royal artillery, and married Geriloma Barona, daughter of the 
late Marquis di Montebello. Thie lady died on the 4th September, 18.')4, and 
the Major survived her only four months. Both were interred in the family 
mausoleum at Messina. Though springing from a stock without any remark- 
able antecedents, good fortune seems to have attended the career of the 
ofTspriug of the worthy sergeant-major ; and much as his son may have added 
distinction to his race by his matrimonial alliance with a lady of high birth, 
it was still more honoured in the person of his granddaughter, who was 
wedded to the noble Prince di Castelcicala, the late Minister Plenipotentiary 
for Sicily. 

Another of the sergeant-majors was Alexander Spence. He was born in 
172r>, and enlisted into the 2Uth Foot, Janiia''^ 16, 1750. After a service of 
19 years in that regiment, and 14 as sergeart i i the North Hants Militia, he 
joined the corps at the age of 61!! This is tne j eriod when men usually think 


"I s 



I n 







•m. w 

,1, . i< 

WHh iHSued everj' alternate year, 

I ,11- 

h . ,ih long skirts, njiUiiff cmllnr, black lioth 

> - 'jiiinj.^ to the skirts, and I;i}>p».'l8 ai tlv 
1, \\iU. till'<'s» on the airtk and pM-ket-h'ilo?. 
ilh rectangular loojjg, having a button at one ciul 
'fiu' buttons were mmilar in ni/f. iii?»torial, iiml 
. ii«<> alri'july desfTilHHl f>=« Ijein^j- ri'^»iiW' '.u! ftt Gib- 
He hrf'uhi ft"n>; AiTcwnrn, and ai U'.*'- wrist .-^in.dl 
^tock w.! tck leatlior with a false collar 

atxnit a quarter of an inch. Tlie brecchci? and 
f white dotii, and tile gaiters of bhick dotli, 
hifh rs iho kiuHi, and wero secured round 
' I 'UD I, ighteeh in nuniher, on the 
;. rwis-tintr they weri' steadied by a 
'n>!' I'ocked hat, worn trantv 
Iff irohl \»*^\ H vhiirf tt'A 




■ ulbr, iifid 

trftSfi .'I'l: 
'yli ■. iuli .1'' :i liiv 

. tMit iitid iMinta- 
* rihiin black 

■'t i;;it~. • . .<i triUt". 

nh-0 worn. 


iwo duiu (ii tb. mpni»h<' ; 


-e;;.'!; -:!it ';i;-*:ri! : :, ; n-i- ■> ■ 

hil with a 

: 1 ..:'■■■: :i r.iiit; ami i ■. 
. i . , ■ ; :iiitiifi' li«i' 

*»« Mid of lifr. N 1 
■ "! Itt« «W(iintr.v I'm- * 

Meat age, 
Wi tliv v 

■ l«$t fcfi*. "ther during .i« 
•liueluun' '«i«l> I'ituula of i' ' 
. ...flioii, hy wiiieli tbey woi 


-,i- ,v 





The uniform, which was issued every alternate year, con- 
sisted of a blue coat with long skirts, rolling collar, black cloth 
facings, white shalloon I'liing to the skirts, and lappels at the 
breast ; which, with the slashes on the cuffs and pocket-holes, 
V ere laced with rectangular loops, having a button at one end 
of the loop. The buttons were similar in size, material, and 
device to those already described jis being regimental at Gib- 
raltar. At the breast frills were worn, and at the wrist small 
ruffles. The stock was of black leathor with a false collar 
turned over it about a quarter of an inch. The breeches and 
waistcoats were of white cloth, and the gaiters of black cloth, 
which reached as high as the knee, and were secured round 
the leg by a row of small buttons, eighteen in number, on the 
outer seam. To prevent ' liom twisting they were steadied by a 
button at the bend o^ I'le knee. The cocked hat, worn trans- 
versely, was ornamented with a binding of gold lace, a short red 
feather, horse-hair rosette, and gold loop and button. The 
hair wiis clubbed and j)owdered. Plate III. 

The working dress was a plain white raven duck, or canvas 
frock, reaching nearly to the ankles, with a rolling collar, and 
brass buttons down the front ; white duck waistcoat and panta- 
loons, tongued and buttoned at the bottom, and plain black 
felt hats.'-' Leatlier stocks and frilled sliirts were also worn. 
'I'iie hair was queued but not powdered. Plate IV. 

Two suits of this dress were furnished to every man annually 
— each suit lasted six months. They were also provided with a 

of retiring from active employment and preparing for the end of life. Not so 
SiH^iice. Ho was still a recruit, hale aiul hearty, and served his country for a 
fiirtlier period of 21 years! If nature had taken her course, he might have 
lived to a great age, hut disappointed in his expectation of receiving a sub- 
lieutenancy in the corps, he committed suicide January 11, 1809, at the age 
of 83. 

' While waiting for the issue of their regimental costume, the men, to ap- 
pear smart and clean, pipe-clayed their frocks, vests, and pantaloons, and 
uiarched on Sundays to church as white as snow, and " stiff as buckram." 
Unavoidably rubbing against each other during the service, the wash being 
thus set free, filled the sanctuary with clouds of white powder, which gave rise 
to the playful designation, by which they were known for some time, of 
" Hearts o'pipe-elay." 




pair of serge breeches and a flannel waistcoat. Under what 
circumstances and on what occasions tliese articles were to be 
worn, was never determined, and the men were therefore at 
liberty to dispose of them as they pleased. To distinguish 
them from the necessary items of the working dress, they were 
denominated " The Queen's Bounty." 

The arms of the rank and file were those common to the 
period — firelocks, pouches and cross belts of buff leather pipe- 
clayed. The sergeants had pikes, and long narrow thrust- 
swords — the latter purchased at their own expense : the gripe 
was steel, with a single gilt guard ; the scabbard was black 
leather, mounted with a gilt tip, top and boss, and the shoulder 
belt, with a frog to hold the sword, was pipeclayed like those of 
the j)rivatcs. The sergeant-majors wore swords and belts the 
same as the sergeants, but no pikes. The drummers were 
armed with brass-handled swords, short in the blade, but 
broader than the sergeants, and black scabbards with brass 
mounting. All ranks had a square breast-buckle to their belts ; 
those of the superior ranks were gilt. 

The distinctions in regard to rank were as follows ; — La- 
bourers, coarse clothing, yellow tape lace on their coatees and 
l;^ts. Artificers, clothing of a much finer quality, same kind 
of tape lacing on their coatees, but gold lace on their hats. 
Drummers, same clothing as artificers, with this difference — 
instead of plain yellow tape, they had broad livery lace of a 
quality like tape, bearing the Ordnance arms of three guns and 
tlu'ee balls, extending from the collar downwards in parallel 
stripes. Corporals, same as artificers in every respect, but, in 
addition, small gold-fringed knots on the shoulders.'" Sergeants, 
crimson sashes and swords, gold lace on coats, but no knots on 
shoulders : they woro laced straps only. Seryennt-majors, sashes 
and swords, gold lace on coatees, bullion epaulettes, and silk 
velvet facings. 

"' A yellow silk knot was regimental ; this the corporals were permitted to 
dispose of for a pild-friiigod knot. In most of the companies the corporals 
wore knots on each slionlder. lu tliu Woolwicii coinpuny, one only was worn 
on tilt' right shoulder. 




In the working dress there was no apparent distinction be- 
tween the labourers, artificers, and drummers. The corporals 
and sergeants were distinguished by black hats of the same 
shape as the j)rivates, with a gold-lace band, about an inch 
broad, around the bottom of the pole, and their frocks, &c., were 
finer in fabric and whiter in colour. The sergeant-majors always 
appeared in uniform, for which purpose they were allowed a 
complete suit annually. 

It may not be amiss to notice, in connection with the dress of 
the corps, an interesting offer that was made to the companies 
at Gibraltar, on the change of their uniform from red and 
yellow to blue and black. At the fortress the companies were 
much esteemed for their good conduct and civility, and the best 
understanding existed between them and the inhabitants. This 
feeling of respect was particularly shared by the Jews, who 
desired to express it in a manner that would be more convincing 
than a mere verbal assurance. On the new clothing arriving at 
the Rock, the Jews, regarding the alteration with satisfaction, 
agreed among themselves to provide for the companies, as a 
mark of their regard, whatever gold lace might be required for 
the clothing, free of cost, to be worn in place of the yellow 
tape ; but it need hardly be mentioned, that the desired devia- 
tions of this kind people from the established patterns of the 
corps could not be permitted. 





Appointment of Quartermaster and Colonel-Commaudant— Distribution of 
C(>rj)s, Captains of companies— Jealousy and ill-feeling of the civil artificers 
— Hiot at Plymouth — Its casualties — Recruits wrecked on passage to Gibral- 
tar^ — Song, " Bay of Biscay, O !" — Defence of the Tower of London against 
the Jacobins — Uagshot-heath encampment — Alterations in the uniform and 
working dress. 

Hkketofork the captains of the difterent companies communi- 
cated with the Master-General or his secretary direct This 
led to much inconvenience, and tended to establish a distinc- 
tiveness of character and position for each company, that was 
neither contemplated nor desired. To prevent its continuance, 
the Duke of Kichmond, on the 13th January, appointed Lieu- 
tenant William. George Phipps, royal engineers, quartermaster 
to the corps ; and on the 12th February, directed the chief 
royal engineer, Major-General Sir William Green, Bart. — who 
originated the companies at Gibraltar, and served with them 
at the fortress until November 1786 — to be Colonel-Com- 
mandant. Tlie former attended to all matters connected with 
the clothing, &c., and to the latter all the correspoiidence con- 
cerning the difterent companies was addressed. 

The first complete returns of the corps whicli have yet been 
found occur in the month of February, immediately after Sir 
A\'illiam Green's appointment. From these returns and other 
documents, the following information relative to the distribu- 
tion of the corps, the strength of the diflbrent companies, and 
the names of the captains, have been collected, viz. : — 




StreriKth iif Company. Captains. 

Woolwich . . 47 . • Colonel liobert Morse. 

Chatham . . 47 . . Colonel William Spry. 

Portsmouth . . 72 . . Lieut-Colonel Fre<l. Geo. Mulcastcr. 

Gosport ... 69 . . Lieut.-Colonel James Moncrief. 

Plymouth . . 104 . . Lieut.-Colonel Edward W. Dumford. 

Guernsey . . 6 . . Lieut.-Colonel Alexander Mercer, 

Jersey Formation not commenced. 

The company at Plymouth was above the established strength, 
arising from the works there being more important than at any 
other station. In May the strength of the half company at 
Guernsey was twenty-three of all ranks, and at Jersey twenty- 

Symptoms of discontent were frequently shown by the civil 
mechanics in the Government service at the authorized employ- 
ment of the military artificers. They looked upon the measure 
as a political move, or as a dangerous experiment to ascertain 
how it would work ; and then, if found to answer, to extend a 
like control to the other workmen in the Crown establishments. 
This notion they imbibed from the expressed apprehensions of 
some leading men of the liberal party in parliament ; and, as 
a consequence, they were jealous of the military artificers, whom 
they treated with great disrespect. A species of rivalry was 
thus induced that rather increased than allayed the feeling of 
mutual animosity. The civilians were not sparing of their 
taunts, nor were the military artificers as temperate in their 
retorts as might have been wished. Quarrels naturally ensued, 
individual feuds were frequent, and in ti.'s way did the civilians 
endeavour to hold up the military artificer to ridicule and dis- 
grace for the purpose of goading the Government to disband 
them ; but how ftir they succeeded the existence of the corps at 
this day aff(»rds a satisfactory reply. 

At one of the stations the bad feeling that existed between 
the civil and military artificers was exhibited in an altercation 
that originated between the latter and some sailors, in which 
the dock workmen interfered. This brought about a serious 
rupture, the particulars and consequences of which are given 

Matches for wrestling and cudgelling between soldiers and 




sjiilors were arrnnged to take ])lacc iti a field adjoining Stoke 
(Jliurch, near Plymouth, on tlie afternoon of the 4th June — the 
King's birthday— on which occjision the soldier- artificers, in 
common with the civilians, were granted a holiday. The victors 
were to be rewai'ded with buckskin breeches and silver cups. 
But few of the military would venture to take part in the 
amusements, so . that the company and the sailors, and some 
mechanics of the dock-yard, were the principal actors. The 
men of the soldier-artificers who entered the lists were chiefly 
from Cornwall and adepts at wrestling. They only went, how- 
ever, to witness the games — not to join in them ; and it wiis not 
till they were challenged that they entered the arena. Having 
done so, they exerted themselves according to the fashion of 
their country, and succeeded in gaining almost the whole of the 
jnizes ; which, as was natural, they bore away with suitable 
demonstrations of pride and pleasure. 

A dispute arose between a couple of rivals about the un- 
fair award of a prize. It was given to a sailor, although 
fairly earned by a military-artificer. The misunderstanding 
would have been easily settled had it been left to the wrestlers 
themselves to decide ; but the dock people interfered, and 
fomented the quarrel, <lirecting their abuse in particular to the 
soldier-artificers. For a time the latter calmly submitted to 
these insults, and yielded the prize for the sake (>f peace ; but 
roused at length to retaliate, they sought satisfaction in the 
ordinary way by fighting. Overpowered, however, by numbers, 
they were very severely treated and driven into barracks, where 
they remained for two or three hours. At last, breaking this 
self-imposed restraint, they again appeared in the town, having 
taken the precaution to prepare themselves with pick-handles 
and short sticks concealed about their persons, to resist any 
attempt at violence on the part of the civilians ; and the better 
to cope with their opponents, they walked into the streets, when 
occasion required, in small parties or sections ; which, however, 
had the unfortunate semblance of defiance, and excited the 
sailors and dockmen to renew their insolence. 

Thus aggravated, the military artificers fell upon the civilians 




and drove tliem pell-incll through the town. Intcllifjcnco of 
tlio resumed atTray soon spread, and numbers of holiday folk 
joined the ranks of the rabble. Armed with bludgeons, staves, 
and broom-handles, the civilians paraded the streets, and find- 
ing a small party of the military artificers refreshing them- 
selves at an inn, the rabble entered and furiously attacked 
them. Against such overwhelming odds the little party could 
not hold up, and being easily mastered, they were forcibly 
ejected from the house and pursued to the barracks. 

What had happened was, as yet, merely a series of individual 
or sectional encounters — the preliminaries to something more 
serious. Galled by a second reverse, the military artificers 
now mustered in full strength, together with their non-commis- 
sioned officers, and sallied into the street, brandishing brooms, 
])ick-handles, clumps of wood, and various other unmilitary 
weapons. Some marines and a few other soldiers, sympa- 
thizing with the company, joined in the unhappy broil. By 
this time the civilians and sailors were also considerably 
strengthened, and every moment crowds were pouring in to 
swell the hostile mob. 

The instant the two parties came in sight the conflict re- 
commenced. Closely and warmly it continued for about an 
hour, when the civilians gave way, running in all directions 
from the field and leaving the military victors. The mob, 
soon rallied, and assembled more numerous than before, 
the ffovernment ground Ijetwcen Cumberland and St. 


George's Squares, to make another and a final struggle for 
the ascendancy. Thither the military artificers with their 
j)artisans hurried. Nothing dismayed by the numbers col- 
lected to oppose them, they resumed the combat Pokers, bars 
of iron, and bludgeons were used with merciless fury ; stones 
of all sizes, broken bottles, and crockery-ware were thrown, and 
weapons even were pressed into the riot. The s"?ne that en- 
sued was frightful, and the civilians continued the contest with 
much rancour and obstinacy. They were routed once, but 
suddenly turning, they djished at the soldiers again with a 
frenzy that deserved a better result. Tlie effort exhausted 




them ; the spirit of the soldiers was stirred afresh, and, pluiigiiifj 
amoiifj the enraged but feeble throng, they spared none that 
had the daring to confront them. Beaten at every point by a 
handful of soldiers, the civilians faced alx)ut, and retreated pre- 
r/ipitatcly from the contest by the nearest avenues. The military 
artificers and soldiers, flushed with success, would have pursued 
them, and repaid their insolence in a manner not soon to be 
forgotten ; but by the activity of Captain Jonathan Passing- 
ham, of tlie 38th Uegiment, who paraded the town with the 
main guard from the lines, the intention was frustrated. The 
conflict lasted several hours, and many of each jiarty were left 
for dead. Several, however, soon recovered, and it was then 
found that the casualties were — one military artificer killed, and 
two severely wounded ; and on the side of the sailors and dock 
men, one killed, two mortally wounded who died, and three 
severely wounded.' Of the less serious wounds and accidents, 
from which very few escaped, no notice appears to have been 

For three days the company was confined to barracks by 
order of the Commandant, to allay the popular excitement. 
But whatever may be thought of the part taken by the niilitary 
artificers in this riot, certain it is that it taught the dock work- 
men a good lesson, and had the effect of repressing their in- 
sults and annoyances, and making their future demeanour more 
pacific and respectful. 

Several recruits having enlisted in Scotland for the com- 
j)anics at Gibraltar, passfige was provided for them on board a 
ship— the name of which cannot be confidently traced — and 
they landed or "joined" at the fortress on the 16th April, 
1791. When in the Bay of Biscay the vessel encountered a 
white squall, accompanied by terrific thunder and lightning, 
which carried away her main and foremasts. Each moment, 
indeed, her final plunge was expected, and the passengers and 
crew, clinging to spars and boxes, shreds of sails, and fragments 
of the dismantled bulwarks, as the last and only chance for 

' 'Public Advertiser,' .luiie lltli, I7t<!». 






their lives, awaital in suspense tlie time when tlic dread alter- 
native must be taken. WMtli the apijenrancc of the niominfj, 
providentially came the desired calm. All hands immediately 
set to work to right the vessel ; the jury-mast was rigfred, and 
the shivered ship, once more under weigh, wore on with strug- 
gling throes, and made good her passage to the Rock. The 
wreck and its circumstances gave rise to a song, called " The 
Biiy of Biscay, O !"» 

In January and February, 1792, the Woolwich company 
was employed at the Tower of London, constructing an earthen 
battery for four guns in front of the gates, and a wooden bat- 
tery for four guns, projecting from the coping of the wall of the 
fortress facing the Minories, to sweej) the ditch and the hill. 
These defensive measures were undertaken by (Japtain Ilolloway 
of the engineers, sergeant John Watson being the overseer, and 

' There exists two ballads with this title, one justly celebrated iu the royal 
navy, written by Andrew Cherry, and embodied iu Dibdiu's "Naval and Na- 
tional Songs," and the other by a homely mariner, named, it is said, John 
Williams. Both songs may have taken their origin from the vessel spoken of 
above, lie this as it may, without doubt, one or the other was written to 
record the distress and struggles of the ship which conveyed the artificers to 

The incidents of the affair related in the first edition of this history were 
made to correspond with the seaman's effusion, as there were reasons at the 
time for believing it referred to the vessel with the recruits on board ; but, as 
on a closer review, there are doubts about its application, the details given in 
the former edition are omitted in this, leaving the question to be solved at a 
future day. 

If the ballad of the seaman have reference to the ship in which the artificers 
sailed to the Rock, it differs in I wo known points from the facts of its voyage. 
The " Caroline " is the ship of the song, and she is said to have .tailed from 
Spithcad on the fuurteenth diu/ nf April, whereas the party of recruits S'liUd 
apparently fmm Scuflnul, (iik/ jmsUive/i/ landed, or, to use the official word, 
"joined," (U Gibraltar on the l(i/A Ajiril. 

The seaman's " Bay of Biscay, O !" is worked up in pure Grub-street dog- 
grel ; but bad as it is, it has been rendered worse, particularly in the last verse, 
by the tampering of some grossly vulgar hand. In the lapse of years the pre- 
cise wording of that Catnach composition has probably been lost, and the 
version that exists, filled up by the imperfections of tradition, may have had 
its dates aud places disturbed. In a printed form the ballad, seemingly, cannot 
be obtained. 

If the differences just shown be considered fatal to the relationship between 
the sailor's song aud the vessel noticed in the narrative, then Cherry's very 
popular ballad belongs to the history of the sappers and miners. 




wore intondod to oppose nny attack on the Tower which miglit bo 
attempted by the turbulent Jacobins. 

The Prussian system of tactics being lately introduced into 
the army, it was ordered that a union of corps should take 
place to ascertain its efficiency. An encampment for the 
purpose was formed on Bagshot Heath, early in July, under 
the Duke of Richmond, the Master-General of the Ordnance. 
The regiments present were the 2nd, 3rd, 14th, and 29th 
Foot ; two regiments of light dragoons, two battalions of 
artillery, and one company of military artificers, made uj) of 
men from the Woolwich, Chatham, Portsmouth, and Gosport, 
companies, under Lieutenant-Colonel Moncrief, royal engi- 
neers. The sergeant-majors of these four companies were 
present. A large quantity of intrenching implements and 
tradesmen's tools accompanied the party. The encampment 
lasted for about a month, the troops marching from one position 
to another, and manccuvring in a body, as if in actual warfare. 
During this time there were three grand field-days and two 
sham battles ; at the whole of which his Majesty was present, 
as also, on some occasions, were the Prince of Wales and the 
Dukes of York and Gloucester. The company of artificers 
manoeuvred with the troops when not otherwise required ; but 
more generally they were employed in making bridges over 
small rivulets for the passage of the troops, throwing up occa- 
sional earthworks, as well as raining and constructing wooden 
redoubts. One of the mines was sprung on the 4th August, 
and created quite a spectacle. It raised the earth in a solid 
mass about thirty feet in diameter, t^irowing its contents to a 
considoral)le distance. Another mine was exploded on the 
7th August, under one of the advanced redoubts, with equal 
success; but the third and last mine was the largest, and 
almost amazing in its effects. Of this mine some particulars 
have been preserved. Upon a round hill was erected one of 
Colonel Moncrief s square wooden redoubts, that the results of 
the mine under it might be beiter discerned. The artificers 
broke ground against the side of the hill, 152 feet from the 
redoubt, and about 20 feet below the summit of the hill. The 





• '«# 4*i!*rn 1 12 feut in leujrth, a!«)iit i\ feet wide, 

Tfcni whcnct' comnfiiced a tnniiiijr 22 incbc; 

• n- i jiiijh, wklvh dtrckhcd iiudor flie rodoubt. A 

. fisiiijj ot" feet w.j-t made f(/r tho chaniber, into vih\c]. 

:: wowlen box. of {jimpowdiT lined with pitched canva.s. 

jUiiutity of powder used wae 72 lbs., and was exploded by 

... u.s of n i^'cvidiui trough coctaiiiing a caav*. pipe lilifd with 

..uwrici'. \V:.^' i.ivd. the wholo rodouht wai» Ijfn-d up alxnit 

I fmginctits, dust, and «mf»ke, Ip^.viDjr 

» .farly 40 foet m!.!,- ,ttk1 ':?'» foot 

1 ^^if ind cnlk-'d forth tht' sjmju- 

■Uiesscd it, and the 

t <» of Kioimunid ffpw. tht frsl Jifld 

■'" of the railitr.: V 

'' to tiifir respcv;... 

4<' kfit, and ii 
i lariT'^ <'hasiii hi 

ta;,oou8 .1 
piraisics 0' ' 
>ii,rdc('4 ill 
ployed. 1 . 
8th Aweusf 

ThI? jear 
hat. IV dr»... . 
and yellow woiW' 
an forxnoriy. It \« 
privateH' lace. ^^ 
were now v .>ni 
(luality i>.* th>- , 

i'o .. 
for the i< 

(■(jUar wn,-< V 

I I 


, 7«v 



1792. J 



first gallery was driven 112 feet in length, about 3 feet wide, 
and 3.^ feet high, from whence commenced a turning 22 inches 
wide and 3 feet high, which stretched under the redoubt. A 
second turning of G feet was made for the chamber, into which 
WHS ])ut a wooden box of gunpowder lined with pitched canvas. 
The quantity of powder used was 72 lbs., and was exploded by 
means of a wooden trough containing a canvas pij)e filled with 
powder. When fired, the whole redoubt was lifted up about 
40 feet, and disappeared in fragments, dust, and smoke, leaving 
a large chasm where it stood, nearly 40 feet wide and 20 feet 
deep. It was a magnificent sight, and called forth the spon- 
taneous acclamations of the throng that witnessed it, and the 
praises of the Duke of Richmond.^ These were the first field 
fiervices in which any of the military artificers had been em- 
ployed. They returned to their respective stations about the 
8th August.'' 

This year the black felt round hat superseded the cocked 
hat. The drummers' livery lace was a mixture of black, red, 
and yellow worsted — the Ordnance device was not woven in it 
as formerly. It was sewn on the coats in the same style as tlie 
privates' lace, ^^'^orstcd wings of the three colours intermixed 
were now worn by the drummers for the first time. The 
quality of the cloth in all ranks was somewhat deteriorated this 
y(!ar. Plate V. 

To suit tht; seasons tlie working dress wjis considerably 
altered. In summer a plain raven duck jacket was substituted 
for the long frock of 17^7. The duck waistcoat tor summer 
was abolished. In winter a blue jacket with black cufts and 
collar was worn, precisely similar in cut and make to the duck 

" For full inforinatiou coneeniiug these expL'rimental operations and nia- 
ncDiivros.seetlie ' I'ulilic Advertiser' for .July !)th, Auf!ust "tli.and AiifTiist lOtli, 

* To show how interested and considerate the Duke of Richmond was, in 
oven trivial matters connected with the corps, it may be mentioned that on tlie 
28th Septenilier, IT'.ii, he ordered that six married private labourers, who bad 
been at lingshot Camii under his command, should each be paid half-a-RuiMia 
as a donation for the inconvenieuce and expense they were subjected to iu 
'icing absent from their families. 




jacket. With this jacket a flannel waistcoat was worn, and 
serge trowsers or pantaloons of the same form or style as the 
original pantaloons. To the "■ Queen's Bounty," consisting of 
a pair of serge breeches and en under serge waistcoat, was 
added a second serge waistcoat. The shirts were now worn 
quite plain in front ; the hair contini ed to be queued ; and the 
sergeants and corporals to be undistinguished in rank in the 
working dress. Plate VI. 


!■'? waist^xMkt ■n, anil 

:••■■ ,!atlU; i'itfUi Vf ■;■, ^ tllO 

^!l^ vu i! Bonnty," oongir,tiiiu of 
:•■ v\\r,^r .,f>i;^t! vvai«v<-.>;it. was 

Ml queued; and the 
. -^Uii^uitihud ni rank in Uu> 

- ■ 


,-),',. ■•,■'■■■ 



,. ' ■ , . 




■'■ ■ 






„■ - - :. " . ' • - . " ": 



' ' - , : - - . 





■ , ■ ■ ' • 




" ■•- 










War with France — Artificers demanded for foreign service— Consequent 
effects — Detachment to West Indies — Fever at Antigna — Detachment to 
Flanders — Siege of Valenciennes — Waterdown Camp — lieinforcement to 
Flanders — Siege of Dunkirk — Nieuport — Another reinforcement lo Flan- 
ders — Toulon — Private Samuel Myers at Fort Mulgrave — Formation of 
four companies for service abroad — Kstablishment and strength of corps. 

Louis XVI. having been dragged to the scaffold and be- 
headed, the event became the subject of grave consideration in 
the British Cabinet, resulting in the dismissal of the French 
ambassador in London, and in the declaration of war by the 
Convention against Great Britain, Immediately following this 
publication of hostilities, British troops were sent to Holland to 
co-operate with those of the Stadtholder against the common 
enemy, as well to the West Indies for the reduction of the 
French settlements there. 

The new position into which England was thrown by the 
declaration of war, gave prominence to a feature in the royal 
military artificers, which had almost been lost sight of; — that 
was, the liability of the men to serve in any part of the world 
wherever their services might be required. Although every 
care was taken to prevent misconception on this point, by ob- 
taining from every recruit a signed agreement, expressive of his 
willingness to comply with this condition, still, it was regarded 
by all, as a mere formal aiTangement, never to be acted upon ; 
and in this notion they were afterwards strengthened by the fact, 
that when candidates were desired for service at Gibraltar, none 
were sent there unless with their own free consent. Now, 
however, their forgotten agreements were shown to be binding, 

VOL. I. O 




and, accordin<rly, men were deniaiuhHl from the English roni- 
panies for active service in Flanders and the ^N'est Indies. 

As may be supposed, the order occasioned no little 8ur])ri8e 
and regret, as at this period, the military artificers were living 
under circumstances of the most favourable character — treated 
indeed more like citizens than soldiers. Many were married 
and had families ; some few had ])roperty in lan'l and h&nses ; 
and all, or nearly all, had profitable engagements in civil life, 
which they were permitted by their otficers to follow, after the 
demands of the service had been attended to. To avoid there- 
fore the chance of being separated from such advantages, several 
obtained their discharges by providing substitutes at consider- 
able cost, whilst a far greater numl)or took the very dishonour- 
able alternative of deserting, louring the year 1793, the 
desertions were, perhaps, more in number than in any other 
year since the formation of the corps. 

The Plymouth company was willed upon to furnish one cor- 
poral and seventeen private miners for the service of the 
Engineer department in the West Indies, who, embarking in 
February, in due time, arrived at Grenada. Divided between 
that island and Antigua, they had scarcely comnienced their 
duties before the unhealthiness of the climate began to be felt 
among them. Fever, the prevailing scourge of the islands, 
seized them, and ere the close of the year, all, except private 
William Trevethick, hiul died ! lie survived his comrades 
al)out two and a half years ; and with his decease was com- 
pleted the extermination, by fever, of the first foreign detach- 
ment of the corps. 

At Antigua, it should be mentioned, that the malady was 
conveyed on shore through the unconscious imprudence of one 
of the party. lie had gone on board a vessel called the 
' Experiment,' which had just arrived in English Harbour in 
great distress, having lost nearly all her hands by fever. Of 
the existence of the disease in the ship the artificer was not 
aware, and he slept in a blanket belonging to one of the dead 
men. Seized with the disorder, he died in a few hours, and his 
wearing apparel and blanket, being taken to the Ordn.ancc 




(|uarter8 as his property, the infection was thus communicated 
to tlie rest of tlic detachment ; next to tiie artillery, and from 
them it spread to the Slst re^'imcnt, committing ft'urful ravages 
in its course.' 

Five non-commissioned officers, 30 artificers, 50 labourers, 
and 1 drunnner ; total 8(5, collected from the difFeront stations 
and formed into a company at Woolwich, under Captain 
Gother Mann, R.E., embarked at the royal arsenal on the llJth 
of March, to join the anny in the Low Countries under the 
Duke of York, taking with them an abundant assortment of 
intrenching and tradesmen's tools. Most of the men hatl been 
encamped, in 1792, at Bagshot Heath, and were in some mea- 
sure acquainted with the art of field fortification and milittiry 
mining. (Jt)lonel Moncrief, who had greatly distinguished him- 
self during the American war, was appointed chief engineer to 
the expedition. 

Of the company's landing, and its early services in Holland, 
nothing is known, but at the siege of Valenciennes it played an 
important part. All the non-commissioned officers, and most 
of the more skilful of the miners, acted as foremen, and from 
300 to 400 men were frequently placed under the executive 
charge of one military artificer. Those of the company not 
considered fit for overseers, were distributed singly among the 
working parties to stimulate them by their example to equal 
zeal and exertion. In the more difficult services of the siege, 
or when occasion required, the labourers, miners, and artificers, 
of the com])any worked in twos or in greater numbers. The 
working party from the line was seldom less than 14,000 a day. 

In the final assault of the fortress, on the 25th of July, a 
portion of the company under Captain Sutherland, R.E., was 
attached to the left column apjjointed to attack the salient 
angle of the ravelin of the hornwork. Three globes of com- 
pression which had been pushed under the works to be stormed, 
were exploded at short intervals, after nine o'clock, with com- 
plete success. Breaches being thus formed for the columns to 
enter the works, they did so with great ardour and forced the 

' Southey's ' Chron., Hist. West Indies,' iii., p. 72. 





enemy to fly into the fortress. While these external opcrntions 
were in course of acconiijlishnient, the miners bravely rushed 
from the ditch into the enemy's .suhtcrranean jrallerieg, took the 
workmen in them, and faved the mine from liein>; sprunfj;. Tt) 
these underground manduivres and the promptitude and gal- 
lantry of the detachment of artificers and line workmen in 
preventing the exjdosion of the enemy's mines, the fall of 
Valenciennes was chiefly indebted. It capitulated on the 28th 
of July. Sir James Murray, in a despatch, dated 2(Uh July, 
1793, thus writes — " A detiichment of the company of artificere, 
under CapUiin Sutherland, accompanied the column to the 
ravelin of the hornwork, and performed the duty allotted to 
them with great activity and resolution." One labourer — 
private Robert Freeman — was killed.'' 

General Dundas, about this ])eriod, introduced the system 
of drill so long distinguished by his name ; and to test its 
efficiency a camp was formed on the Ist of July, at Waterdown, 
under the Duke of Richmond. The troo])s, both horse and 
foot, numbered 7,()0(). To this camp was attached, by the 
Duke's order, four non-commissioned oflicers, tliirty-six privates, 
and one drummer of the military artificers, under Lieutenant 
George Bridges, R.E., who took with them a jjrojjortion of field 
implements and artificers' tools. For three weeks, the season 
being exceedingly fine, the drill was briskly carried on ; but 
was succeeded by an interval of idleness and discomfort occa- 
sioned by heavy and continuous rji n. On the 4th of August, 
the troops moved to Ashdown lorest, where they manauvred 
for a week and finally marched to Hrighton : there they drilled 
for a fortnight, producing some grand military displays in the 
presence of the Prince of V^'ales, and returned to their stations 
on the 22nd of August In the purely military evolutions of 
the camp the artificers took no part ; but when the troops were 
moving they always preceded them to construct temporary 
bridges over the rivulets and ditches that intercepted the march, 
and to cut away obstacles to afford an easier road for the 

' ' Loudou Guzetlu ExtraorUiuary,' August 1, I7U3. 





pusaage of tlic artillery. T\\e matorinls for t\w bridges were 
cut on the spot, forinod into faggots, and hastily thrown over 
tlie streams in view of the troops. At Brighton, the party was 
daily occui)'(h1 in bridge-making, and became very ex})ert in 
that description of field service." 

A few days i)revious to the dispersion of the camp, the Duke 
of Richmond ordered another selection of four non-commissioned 
officers and ninety-ciglit artificers and labouriTs, to be made 
from the Knglisli companies to reinforce the corps in Flanders ; 
and in order tliat the party should be formed of the most 
etticient men, his (jrace desired as many as could be spared to 
be taken for the service from the Brigliton detachment. To 
press as lightly as possible upon individual interests, volun- 
teering was freely allowed, and thi; remainder were obtained by 
casting lots. The companies at Woolwich, Portsmouth, and 
tiosport, were also required to provide their (juoUi ; and being 
collected at liead-quarters, they sailed late in August, and in a 
few days arrived at Ostend. With this reinforcement, the 
niiliUiry artificers in the Low Countries amounted to 7 non- 
commissioned officers, 41 artificers, 104 labourers, and 1 
drummer ; total 153. 

Innnediately on landing, they were marched to join the com- 
pany then before Dunkirk, and were employed in the operations 
for the reduction of that fortress until the 7th of Sei)tember, 
when tlie Duke of York was compelled to abandon his position, 
( )n returning to the Artillery Park, the artificers exerted them- 

^ During the formation of one of the bridges, Mrs. Fiizliirbert (wlio lind 
paid a visit to the IVuice of Wales at Brighton) was riding by alone. Sergeant 
.lohn Johnston, who was in charge of the party, recognizing the favonrite, 
very politely touched his cap in compliment to her, and she immediately 
pulled up. After asking a variety of ({uestions concerning the work, she 
praised the men for their exertions, and desired that each sbouUt receive an 
extra day's pay. For this purpose she gave the sergeant sufficient money, and 
taking a note of liis name, commended him for his civility ami promised to 
remember him. Very shortly after lie received the ofl'er of an eusigucy in a 
regiment in the West Indies, and sailing thither in November, received his 
commission iu the 'i9th Foot, 1st May, 1791!. It was supposed that Mrs. 
Filzherbert, true to her promise, had exerted her inHuence and obtained this 
appointment for him. George Koss, the other sergeant present with the party, 
was commissioned as Lieutenant in the tlarnarvon Militia, iu October, 1796. 




selves in spiking all the guns that could not bo carried with the 
army and in disabling their carriages, as well as in throwing 
about 500 barrels of gunpowdev into the river and destroying 
nearly all the intrenching tools. In this siege, three artificers 
were killed — privates William Drummond, John Fairbaim, and 
John Wilson ; and one was missing — private Thomas Howell ; 
but of the nuinber wounded, no record can be found. Colonel 
Moncrief, the chief engineer, was dangerously wounded in re- 
pulsing a sortie by the enemy on the 6th of September, and 
died a few days after at Ostend, where he was interred under 
the flagstaff by some of his own comjv'ny. 

A portion of the corps was employed in October in the 
defence of Nieuport, but in what manner cannot now be ascer- 
tained. Indeed, from the paucity of information, either verbal 
or documentary, rendering it impracticable to trace, with any- 
thing like distinctness, the services and mover, lents of the 
military artificers during the remainder of this and the s'lbse- 
quent campaigns in the Low Countries, unsatisfactory gaps will 
necessarily appear in this narrative at times, when the most 
interesting details might have been expected. 

Whilst the siege of Nieuport was progressing, Sir Charlep 
Grey with his expedition arrived at Ostend, and learning the 
critical situation of the garrison detennined to relieve it ; but no 
sooner had he made arrangements for doing so, than the enemy 
retired and left the fortress and the field in quiet possession of 
the allies. l"o Sir Charles Grey's force was attached 2 non- 
commissioned officers and 28 artificers, under Colonel Elias 
Durnford, royal engineers, drafted from England, with "hich 
number the corps in Flanders was augmented to 182 of all 
ranks. Winter setting in soon after, and the si.ife in the Low 
(Jountries being suspended for the season, a company was re- 
called from thence, and, on arrival at Spithead, sailed with 
the fleet for active service in the West Indies. 

In September, a detachment of 1 sergoant — Edward Smith — 
2 corjjorals, and about 20 privates, were selected from (Captain 
Nepoan's company at Gibraltar, and s.ilcd with the armament 
under General O'llara for Toulon tu board ll.M. ships 





' Eginont ' and ' Terrible.' The officers of engineers with the 
party were Captain Njpean and Lieutenant De Butts. On 
landing, the men were detached in twos and threes to the 
different points of defence around Toulon ; and their duties 
consisted in directing, under the general superintendence of 
their officers, the several working parties employed in con- 
structing the batteries, &c. In the various accions and opera- 
tions at this place, the detachment was inore or less engaged, 
and " all were most zealous, active, and distinguished ii. their 
several capacities." Seme were wounded ; and In the desperate 
defence of I'ort Mulgrave, three were killed. 

At this fort, private Samuel Myers, who had previously 
served at the siege of Gibraltar, was conspicuous in his exer- 
tions under Lieutenant John Duncan, royal artillery, assistant 
engineer. At one of the guns all the artillerymen were either 
killed or disabled, for the post was a dangerous one ; and the 
gun was consecjuently silent, though in a position to do much 
service. Observing this, Myers, having given general instruc- 
tions to those who were under him as to the manner in which 
they were to perform their work, repaired with some volunteers 
to the battery and manned the gun. For a considerable time 
he laid and fired it himself with a precision and effect that 
checked the fierceness of the enemy's cannonade, and attracted 
the notice of General Dundas, Highly ai)proving of the zeal 
iind gallantry of the self-constituted gunner, the General made 
him a corporal on the spot, and would have honoured him with 
a higher rank, only it was found that tl.o custom of the corps did 
not adn\it of this distinction being conferred. Througliout the 
remaining period of the defence, Myers divided his attention 
between this gun and the works, attending to both with an 
ardour and fearlessness that gained him much praise. Early 
ni tiie next year ^e was killed in (,'orsica. 

Two t)f the English companies out of six having already been 
sent abroad, and the nature of our relations with France rcn- 

* Private .Insliua Cook, of the Woolwich coiiipuny, was sent to Touldu as 
I' (k'lly to Colonel D'Auliaut, royal engineers, anil served in that capacity in 
Toulou and Corsica until the Colonel returned with him to Kugluud. 




dering it highly probable that more would be demanded, the 
Duke of Richmond represented to his Majesty the benefit that 
would result to the service, if a corps of artificers and labourers 
were formed expressly for employment abroad. His Grace the 
more readily recommended this measure, as the various stations 
from which detachments were sent were compelled to hire civil 
tradesmen to supply their places, at wages considerably higher 
than the estimates warranted ; and whilst it checked improve- 
ment in the labourers, which lis Grace was anxious to see 
developed, it also crippled, in soii.e degree, the general efficiency 
of the companies. Concurring, therefore, in his Grace's pro- 
position. His Majesty granted a warrant under date the lltb 
September, 1793, for raising a corps of royal military artificeis 
and labourers, to consist of four companies and to .be distributed 
as follows : — 

Flauders . 

. 2 companies 

West Indies . 

. 1 

Upper Canada 

. 1 

The command and composition of the companies were to be 
similar in every respect to the English companies ; they were to 
be stationary in the countries where they were appointed to 
serve ; and the men were to receive the like advantages in pay, 
allowances, and clothing. A distinct position would seem to 
have been given to these foreign companies by the warrant, 
but they nevertheless, though designated a corps, were compre- 
hended with the English companies in one united body, and 
depended upon the latter companies for the maintenant of 
their strength and tfficiency. Such, however, it may be ob- 
served, was not the case with the companies at (Gibraltar, which 
yet remained a separate and inde))endent body, though differing 
from the home and foreign companies only in non-essentials of 
a local character. 

The warrant just alluded to does not appear to have been 
carried out in the manner intended. Instead of sending a rein- 
forcement to Flanders to complete the companies there to the 
authorized establishment, one company was withdrawn from 
thence ajid sent to the West Indies ; while tis regarded the 




latter station, in addition to the company ordered, a party also 
embarked with it, fonning, with the detachment already in those 
islands, the nucleus of a socond company. The total number 
of artificers and labourers in Flanders, after this change, was 82 
of all ranks, and in the West Indies 126. On what ground 
this reversionary alteration was adopted is not precisely known ; 
but it may reasonably be assigned to the pressing appeals from 
the West Indies for more men, and the inactive position of 
affairs in the Low Countries permitting it to be effected without 
detriment to the service. The company for Canada wa.s never 
embodied, though the idea of forroiag it was cherished until 
December 1798, when it was abandoned. 

At the end of the year the establishment and strength of the 
corps were as under : — 

Home companies . 
Foreign companies . 


Total . . 
Strength .... 

. 1000 establiehment 
. 588 

Wanting to complete 

. 412 


lll«TOUY OF Tin: 



Working dress — Company sails for West Indius — Martiiiiciiie — Spirited con- 
duct of a detachment there — Giiadaloupe — Mortality — Toulon — Flanders— 
Ueinforcemeiit to company there — Return of the company — Works at 
Gravesend — Irregularities in the corps — Causes — Uedeemiug (lualities — 
Appointment of Kegimental Adjutant and Sergeant-major — Consequences- 
Woolwich becomes the head-quarters — Alteration in working dress. 

This year the working dress of the corps was considerably 
mrdified. Tlie raven-duck frock was succeeded by a plain 
round blue jacket for winter, and a raven-duck jacket for 
summer. The colour of the working hat was changed for the 
privates from black to white ; and the corporals and sergeants 
wore distinguished from the inferior ranks by a baiid of gold 
lace round the pole of the hat at the bottom. See Plate VI. 

The company frotn Flanders under Colonel Elias Durnford, 
royal engineers, intended for service in the West Indies, rendez- 
voused for a time at Spithead. While there, every care was taken 
to make it as efficient for active duty as possible ; and several 
men wlio were suffering from the fatigues of the sieges of Dunkirk 
and Nieuport, w^re accordingly re-embarked and their places 
supplied by others from the Portsmouth and Gosport companies. 
After being provided witli the necessary field equipment, the 
conijKiny sailed with the fleet from Spithead on the 3rtl 
Nokcmber, 1793, and arrived at Barbadoes the Gth January, 
1794. Its strength on landing was ninety-four of all ranks, 
including its sergeant-major — Matthew Iloey.' 

' Served seven years in the Royal Marines. Eulisted in the corps April 28, 
1788, and was present in almost every action and capture which took place in 
the West Indies up to the year of his decease, which occurred at Harbadocs, 
July 14, 1810. Few uon-coinmissioned officers had a more stirring career, or 




From Barbadtws the company proceeded with the expedition 
under General Sir Charles Grey and Admiral Sir John Jervis 
to Martinique ; and having landed, commenced and completed, 
(luring the night of the 10th February, the erection of the re- 
quired batteries on Mount Matherine against Pigeon Island. 
On the surrender of this island on the morning of the 11th, a 
portion of the company, under Lieutenants Fletcher and Durn- 
ford, royal engineers, was formed in line with a brigade of the 
royal artillery and a part of the 70th regiment, to protect the 
stores then landing, and to support the left of the army in the 
attack upon the heights of Souririe. The post was soon carried ; 
and the entire company subsequently participated very essen- 
tially in the siege of Fort Boiu-bon. After a month's unceasing 
exertion before that fort, it was captured on the 25th March, 
and Martinique then became the prize of Britain. In noticing 
the services of the company. Sir Charles Grey, in his despatch 
of 25th March, writes : — " Colonel Durnford, with the corps of 
engineers, have also a claim to my warmest approbation for 
their exertions in placing and constructing the batteries." The 
casualties were one killed — private William Simpson, on the 
11th February at Pigeon Island — and three wounded.' 

After the successful attack on Souririe, corporal James Kerr 
of the royal military artificers, and a detachment of the com- 
j)auy under his orders, were employed on field duty at noon-day 
in front of the army. A very superior force of the enemy 
attempted to surprise them, but as soon as they perceived their 
danger, they retired and defended thems<;lves in so steady, 
spirited, and soldierlike a manner, as to command the admira- 
tion of many oflScers and others. 

Nearly the whole of the company were subsequently em- 

greater chances, by his prizes, employments, and successful speculatiuus, of 
uci]uiring wealth. Much he gained and much he spent. lie had his horses 
and his servants. Costly ornaments he wore with eastern profusion, and the 
hilt of his rapier, and the mountings of his scabbard, were of silver. Indeed 
it requires a couplet from Pope to do him anything like justice. 
" A radiant baldrick o'er his shoulders tied 
Sustain'd the sword that glitter'd at his side." 
' ' London Gazette Extraordinary,' April 17th and 2'2nd, 1794. 




l)loyed in the reduction of the Islands of St. Lucia and Guada- 
loupe ; but what services were rendered by them in those 
captures have not been recorded. 

Sir Charles Grey, having succeeded in the enterprise with 
which he was intrusted, left Major-General Dundas in command 
at Guadaloupe and made arrangements to return home. The 
fever peculiar to the country, soon afterwards made its appear- 
ance in the island and the General died. Taking advantiige of 
this event and the daily increasing sickness, the French rose 
against the British and retook Fort Fleur d'Epee. Sir Charles 
Grey, hearing of the disaster and anticipating its consequences, 
returned with all haste to Guadaloupe and resumed the com- 
mand of the troops. At this time the company was divided 
into almost equal proportions at each of the subjugated islands, 
to assist in carrying on the various works. Thirty-one non- 
commissioned officers and men had been left at Guadaloupe on 
its capture under Lieutenants Dowse and Durnford, royal 
engineers ; but at the period of the outbreak only twenty-one 
men were present, ten having already died of the fever. 

At Guadaloupe the miUtary artihcers were employed in the 
repairs of magazines and barracks, and in the construction of 
field works at Basseterre : subsequently they superintended the 
erection of batteries, &c., against Point a Pitre in the endea- 
vours to recover Grandeterre ; but as all attempts to regain this 
branch of the island were now abandoned, the detachment 
retreated to Berville with the army for the purpose of pre- 
venting Basseterre falling into the hands of the enemy, llere 
the artificers were engaged in various works for the defence of 
the camp, and shared in repulsing the three attacks made on 
the j)osition in September and October. By climate, fiitigue, and 
privation, their numbers gradually dwindled away ; and when the 
])()st was captured on the 7th October, only ten men were living. 
Six of these were taken prisoners,-' with Lieutenant Durnford of 

^ Privates William Burrcll, John Clark, Abraham Mayhead, liobert Tor- 
riiice, William Fleming, and Thomas Wagg. Four of the number soon died ; 
uud the two first, on being released, joined the remnant of the company at 
ijt. Domingo on the 18th April, 1796. 




the enfyinccrs ; and the other four, under Lieutenant Evatt, R.E., 
served at the defence of Fort Matilda from the 14th October 
to the 10th December, the date of its evacuation.^ During that 
protracted struggle, the services of these four men, especially 
sergeant John Morris and private Samuel Bowes, were found to 
be particularly useful in every respect. Such was the opinion 
of Lieutenant Evatt, who, fifty years after, also afforded a 
general testimony to the merits of the company, by stating that 
'' wherever their services were required they were ever con- 
spicuously forward." 

The yellow fever continued its ravages throughout the year 
with frightful violence, and carried off more than half of the 
company. In May the sickness was very general among the 
artificers. That month twenty-five died ; and of the survivors, 
very few were found sufficiently efifective for the service of 
the works. In June, the party at St. Lucia, which so far had 
escaj)ed the prevailing scourge, was removed to Martinique to 
hasten the restoration of Fort Bourbon, But little advantage, 
however, was obtained by this arrangement, as nearly the whole 
of the men were immediately seized by the sickness. At the 
close of the year sixty-five non-commissioned officers and 
privates had died ; of whom forty-two were at Martinique and 
twenty-three at Guadaloupe ; as also Colonel Dumford, Captain 
Chilcot, and Lieutenants Dowse and Lawson of the royal 
engineers. The strength of the company was now reduced to 
twenty-six ox all ranks, including the prisoners of war, but the 
effijctives of this number did not exceed ten. 

Toulon was evacuated in the middle of December, 1793, 
and the remnant of the army employed there soon afterwards 
landed in Corsica. With this force the detachment of military 
artificers shared in the various actions and sieges of that island, 
pjirticularly at San Fiorenzo, Bastia, Ajaccio, and Calvi. In 
directing the construction of the required works and batteries, 
more especially at the lengthened siege of Calvi, their services 
were highly spoken of by their officei-s and the assistant 
engineers under whose instructions they for the most part 

* 'London Gazette,' 13751. lu- 14 February, 1795. 




acted ; and though so few in number, they were considered by 
the army to be most useful and valuable soldiers.* Most of 
them were killed at San Fiorenzo and Calvi, and the rest were 
wounded ; of whom two privates only survived. These two 
men, previously to the evacuation of Corsica in October, 1 796, 
were present at the capture of the Island of Elba, and in 
January, 1797, returned with Lieutenant De Butts, royal 
engineers, to Gibraltar. 

Hostilities were resumed in Flanders as soon as the severity 
of the winter had subsided. To compel the French to evacuate 
Flanders was now the purpose of the allied commanders. To 
this end, on the 16th May, the whole force made a forward 
movement. The column under the Duke of York, to which the 
company of artificers was attached, marched to Liinnoy and 
then to Roubaix driving the enemy before it. On the 18th 
May the French, making a determined stand, hotly pressed the 
British in front and rear by an overwhelming force, and obliged 
his Royal Highness to resort to the daring alternative of 
retreating through the enemy's line, which he accomplished, 
but with great loss. In this action the artificers had four 
wounded, one missing — private John Smart — and seven taken 

The Earl of Moira being appointed to command a corps 
intended to act on the offensive against France, one sergeant, 
one corporal, twenty-one artificers, and eight labourers of the 
hom.e companies were selected to accompany it. Early in 
January the detachment was forwarded to Southampton and 
there encamped for several months, drilling with the troops. 
Ultimately the destination of the expedition was changed, and 
his lordship was directed to co-operate with the Duke of York. 

' Lieutenant John Duncan, royal artillery, who was employed as assistant 
engineer in the sieges of Toulon and Corsica, " often spoke," writes Lieutenant- 
General Birch, of the royal engineers, under date 22nd August, 1848, " with 
the very utmost enthusiasm of the conduct of the royal military artificers in 
these operations, and would delight to dwell in describing their conduct as 
being fine, brave, and eniluriug." 

° Privates Alexander Williamson, Archibald Douglas, Alexander Stewart. 
Andrew Lindsay, David Morton, George Horn, and John Bristo. 




The armament forthwith embarked, and sailing for Ostend, 
landed on the 26th .Tune. After a march of more than thirty 
days, executed with cheerful resignation, the Earl of Moira 
effected a junction with the Duke of York's column at a time 
when, from the precarious situation of his Royal Highness, an 
addition to his resources was imjieratively needed. The detach- 
ment of artificers with his lordship now joined Captain Mann's 
company, the strength of which, since the opening of the winter 
of the previous year, had been reduced by deaths from eighty- 
two to seventy. With the present increase the total of the 
corps in Holland amounted to 101 of all ranks ; but of this 
number, many were no longer equal to the fatigues of a cam- 
])aign owing to the diseases contracted by them, from unavoid- 
able exposure, during a season of unusual inclemency ; and 
several suffering from incurable frostbites were placed in the 
cjitegory of wounded men. 

On the 12th M,ay, 1795, the above company, transferred to 
the command of Ciptain Johnson of the engineers, arrived at 
Woolwich. Its stre* gth was eighty-six, including its sergeant- 
major. Being no longer required for foreign duty, the men were 
distributed among the Portsmouth and Gosport companies and 
the Guernsey and Jersey half companies. Twelve were left at 
Lisle sick and prisoners of war : three of theni died, seven re- 
turned to England at different periods and the other two — 
Private George Horn and John Bristo — continued to be recorded 
as prisoners until February, 1797 ; when, not having rejoined 
their corps, they were struck off" the strength. By the reduc- 
tion of the Flanders company the establishment of the corps 
was diminished from 1,000 to 800 of all ranks. 

About this period, a detachment of one sergeant, thirty-three 
carpenters, and two drummers, under (^'aptain C. Holloway, royal 
engineers, was sent to Gravesend to make various repairs and 
additions to the defences on the shores of the Thames, as the 
state of European politics and our unsettled relations with France 
rendered these precautionary measures absolutely indispensable. 
They were picked men, of good qualification ; and to distin- 
guish them from the corps employee at Woolwich, Purflect, and 




Chatham, were permitted to wear a very long fantastic feather 
of black, topped with crimson. Tilbury Fort and the Block- 
house at Gravesend were thoroughly repaired by this detach- 
ment, and the requisite arrangements and ap])liances for 
establishing a communication across the Thames, by means of 
barges for the passage of an army, were effected by them. 
They also constructed two batteries for four 24-pounder8 each, 
with temporary wooden barracks for artillerymen at Shorn- 
mead and Hop-Point, below Gravesend. These services were 
barely finished when thirty of the detachment were recalled to 
join the expeditions for St. Domingo and the Caribbee Islands. 
The party that remained, was shortly afterwards increased to 
one sergeant and fifteen carpenters. Detachments of varied 
strength were also employed in strengthening the defences on 
the coast of Sussex, and in repairing the castles at Hurst, 
Cowes, and Yarmouth. 

Drunkenness and irregularity were now very prevalent in 
the corps. Many of the men, from their abandoned habits, 
were insensible either to advice or punishment : whilst others, 
whose moral conduct could not be reproached, were negligent 
of that proper respect for personal cleanliness and appearance 
which is one of the first considerations of a soldier in every 
well-regulated regiment In some degree to check these evils, 
a few of the most incorrigible among the labourers were dis- 
missed from the coq)s, or were either turned over to the navy or 
sent to the West Indies. But even these severe but necessary 
measures failed to produce that wholesome impression on the 
habitual delinquents, which it was reasonable to anticipate 
would be the result. 

The first symptoms of disorder in the conduct of the men 
appeared when they found they were liable to be sent abroad if 
occasion required their services. Led by their constitution and 
employment to consider themselves permanently settled, they 
were quite unprepared for any innovation which had a ten- 
dency to subvert their position or to interrupt the advancement 
of their individual interests. The married men particularly 
received it with unequivocal dissatisfaction. UnwiHing to sub- 




init to the cliaii<fe, which struck at the root of their privileges, 
several deserted ; and others, not daring to involve themselves 
in the consequences of so serious a step, remained only to 
drown their discontent in dissipation, and bring discredit on 
the corps. 

This was not the only source of demoralization. Ever 
since the formation of the corps little or no attention had 
been paid to its military efficiency. Discipline was almost 
entirely relinquished, and drill was an unfashionable exercise. 
The former was relaxed on account of the men being regarded 
more in the light of civilians than soldiers, ami the latter was 
nominally given up on the plea, that it was of far greater 
jmblic benetit to keep them constantly on the works than at drill. 
From the leniency of the one, numbers paid but little regard to 
authority on military matters, and were only too ready to evince 
a spirit of disaffection when anything occurred to infringe upon 
liberties or privileges that the usages of the corps had given 
them a sort of right to enjoy ; and from the neglect of the other, 
they were awkward and dirty in appearance and slovenly in their 
attire. By the many well-intontioncd and orderly men in the 
corps, the laxity of the discipline and infrequency of the drill 
were certainly recognized and appreciated as indulgences ; but 
the advantages bestowed were more than counterbalanced by the 
evils they induced ; for several men — not labourers only, but 
artificers — distinguished by their abilities as tradesmen, but too 
depraved to profit by the mildness of the discipline, j)lunged into 
all the excesses of disorder and drunkeimess. Yet, with all 
this misconduct and want of training in soldierlike principle 
and bearing, they always exhibited an active pride in their fair 
name as mechanics, and committed, comparatively, but few 
oft'ences on the works. 

Another element in producing the irregularity complained of 
is traceable to the manner in which the corps was recruited. 
From the difficulty of obtaining good tradesmen with satis- 
factory testimonials of jjrevions conduct, the pernicious system 
of receiving men without characters was resorted to. Ability 
as tradesmen was the great specific, conduct being a non- 

voi,. r. II 



ossentinl qunlification. Coiisequeutly, in the removals from the 
line especially, many men were transferred to the military 
artificers, whose dissolute hahits rendered their intluenee hoth 
mischievons and demoralizinfr, althoii<rh, from their merits as 
niechnnics, they were found fiir too valuahle to dismiss, and too 
useful to he subjected to a jmitractcd jnuiishment. 

But with nil this dissipation and disorder there was much in 
the corps to a])prove, nnicli to admire. The non-commissioned 
officers, the majority of the artificers, and a ffoodly numher of 
the labourers were well-conducted men, and n])held their mili- 
tary character and appearance in a becominjx manner. ()n 
the works, besides being able and expert artificers, they wen? 
foimd to be industrious and cflUcient, supporting and assisting 
tiieir officers in every duty or enterprise of difficulty or danger 
with readiness and zeal. Though differing from other troops 
in many essential points, still there was much sterling worth in 
the royal military artificers, rarely to be met with in any other 
corps in the service. 

Recourse to discipline and drill seemed to Ix; th>' cii^y chance 
of preventing the increase of irregularity, and of permanently 
im])roving the character and condition of the corps. At each 
of the stations the exi)eriment was now in partial operation, but, 
sinniltaneously witli this judicious effort, another measure had 
been efi'ected which promised to be of material advantage in 
bringing about the desired change. This was the aj)pointment, 
on the loth jNIay, of Lieutenant •fohn Rowley of the royal 
engineers, to be Regimental Adjutant to the corps. To each 
company, from its formation, an adjutant had been and con- 
tinued to be attached ; who, however, from the paramount 
importance of the works and other circumstances, was too 
engrossed by his attention to professional duties and details to 
be of much service to his company. The Regimental Adjutant 
was stationed at Woolwich, and through him was carried on all 
the correspondence of the corjjs. His office, however, was at 
Westminster. To assist him, therefore, company sergeant- 
major Anthony Ilaig, who was iin excellent drill-master and 
a talented non-connnissioned officer, was promoted to be regi- 




mental scrj^cant-nmjor on tlio Staff iit Woolwich with tho pay 
of i\8. a-day. 

Tiitvo appointnioiits wcro inuiicdiatoly followod hy an altera- 
tion in the system of recruitiiif,' as conducted hy the otficers 
coinniaiidinn; coni])anies. Kxpcricnce had j)roved that such a 
system was detrimental to tiie corps, and that its discontinuance 
would narrow the sources from which sohh; of the existing evils 
originated and were fed. With this view, the particular 
charge of the service was intrusted to the Regimental Adjutant. 
Recruits were now cidisted for general service, and when ready 
to join the corps, were, in the first instance, sent to NN'oolwich. 
On their arrival they were clothed, equipped, and snhjected t > 
the same drilling as infantry soldiers under the sergeant-major 
and adjutant ; and, when trained, were posted to the comj)anies, 
whether at home or abroad, most in want of men. Kven this 
slight modification produced a more than corresponding im- 
provement in the corps, and revived in some degree, at the 
different stations, the discipline and drill. At Portsmouth 
especially, at a later period, under Colonel Evelegh, who was 
the first Adjutant of the corps and served with its companies at 
the siege of Gibraltar — the disciplinary arrangements were so 
satisfactorily enforced and sustained, that it was a custom for 
some years to remove tall the irregular men to that station, to 
place them under the operation of a strict and wholesome sur- 
veillance. A few years after, about IHOO, to give the corjjs the 
advantage of manoeuvring in masses, the companies at Ports- 
mouth and Gosport, with all the subaltern officers in command, 
were, once a week during the summer months, brought together 
for drill under their respective Adjutants — Lieutenants Hamilton 
and Oldfield. 

Woolwich now became the head-quarters of the corps, and 
all invalids were ever after sent to it from the different stations 
for discharge, instead of being disposed of, as heretofore, by the 
captains of companies. 

This year the working jacket was somewhat altered. Broad 
skirts with pocket slashes were appended to it, and, for the 
sake of giving a more military appearance to the men, a yellow 





worsted lace triangle was sown between the two back buttons, 
and a frog was added to each side of the collar. These orna- 
ments on the sergeant's jacket were of gold lace. The hats of 
the privates v/ere changed fron^ wliite to black felt, o the 
sergeants, in addition to the gold band, wore rosettes and 
crimson plumes. Sec Plate VII. All ranks wore clothing of 
precisely similar fabric. 




worirtecj k«.i* ttiaBgUi was !«}w« iH'twc!^'. the two back buttons, 

nn4# fref? «*s added to m»^ «Wie of the collar. Tbepe nrua- 

tho '^<;rg(raiitV ia<"k»-t were of gold lai^c The h.-itii of 

.ii,', vv.M-t^ (■':(■., a irfiin white to black Mt, and tho 

. ^.,.^ ,,, : , ^i-.kl b:nul, wore rosettes and 

ep»B3on phniwsL Ssk* Plate VII. Ml rnnk> wore cb^thing of 

pTVscisely Hini!'. t'" fabric. 






ruinpaiiies to St. Uomingo and the Caribbee Islands — Kcductioii of St. Lucia 
— Conduct of company tlicre — Gallantry in forming lodgment and converting 
it into a battery — Attack on Uombardc — Distribution and conduct of St. 
Domingo company — Mortality in tlie West Indies — Detachment to Halifax, 
Nova Scotia — Dougal Hamilton — Detachments to Calshot Castle and St. 

Wah, coupled with fever, had by this time made considerable 
havoc among the troops in the West Indies, and reduced the 
force to a number totally inadequate for the services of the 
different islands, much less to resist efficiently the encroach- 
ments of a vigilant enemy, and check the insurrectionary 
demonstrations of a disaffected negro population. In some 
respects to supply this deficiency, reinforcements having been 
applied for, two expeditions were fitted out at Spithead, and 
sailed in November, 1795, under Sir Ralph Abercrombic, for 
St. Domingo and the Windward Islands. 

To each expedition a ci'nipany of sixty non-commissioned 
offi(;ers and men of the military artificers were attached, equipped 
with tools appropriate to their trades, in addition to their arms. 
The company for St. Domingo, under Lieutenant (Jrozier, 
royal engineers, was formed by men drafted from the Wool- 
wich and Chatham companies ; and that for the Caribbee 
Islands, under Lieutenant Gravatt, R.E., by men from the 
Closport, Portsmouth, and Plymouth companies. 

Both companies arrived — after a long and dangerous passage, 
particularly in clearing the Channel— in March, 1790. In 
disposing of the two companies, Sir Ralph despatched, under 
Lieutenant Crozier, thirty-three non-commissioned officers and 




privates, including two men who had been prisonere of war at 
Guadaloupe, to St. Domingo, detaining the remainder to act 
under himself with the Caribbean company, which now reached 
the strength of seventy-seven of all ranks. 

The reduction of St. Lucia was early the intention of Sir 
Ralph, and the expedition accordingly sailed thither. Tlie 
company of artificers, under the command of Captain Hay, 
royal engineers, landed on the 26th April, and at once were 
told off for the duties of the siege. In addition to the con- 
struction of some extensive batteries to act against Morne 
Fortune, they superintended the fonnation of a communication 
by means of a new road from Choc Bay to the Morne. By the 
24th May the English had pushed up to within 500 yards of the 
fort, and the garrison capitulated on the 26th May. 

From the nature of the ground and other circumstances, the 
operations for the reduction of tiie fort were extraordinary 
and arduous, and the exertions of the company conspicuous. 
These attracted the notice of Sir Ralph, who, through he 
medium of Captain Hay, conveyed his thanks to the military 
artificers for their good conduct and soldierlike behaviour at the 

In the attack on the enemy's advanced posts at Morne For- 
tune on the 24th May, a detachment of about twenty non- 
commissioned officers and men of the company, under Lieu- 
tenant Fletcher, R.K., with handspikes, axes, and picks, rushed 
gallantly forward and formed a lodgment, which was rapidly 
converted into a batteiy of five 24-pounders to breach the 
body of the place. The exertions of this party greatly con- 
tributed to the success of the assault and to the fall of St 
Lucia. Lieutenant Fletcher was wounded, as also two rank 
and file.' Of the other casualties in the company from the 
opening of the siege to the assault no record has been pre- 

The detachment of thirty-three non-commissioned ofiicers and 
men, under Lieutenant Crozier, R.E., arrived at Cape Nichola 
Mole, St. Domingo, on the 2nd May, and Captain ^V. 

' ' Ix>ndon Gazette Extraordinary,' July 4th, 1796. 




M'Kerras, royal engineers, assumed the command of it On 
the 8th June following, ahout twenty of the party were engaged 
in tlic attack on Bomhardc, in which one jjrivate — Joiiu 
M'Donald — was mortally wounded, ucJ one sergeant — Hugh 
Taylor — ^was taken prisoner,'* On the 11th June, the St. 
Domingo detachment was further increased by the arrival from 
St. Lucia of one sergeant and fourteen privates under Lieu- 
tenant Stewart. 

Of the ulterior active services of this detachment, nothing 
can he satisfactorily traced. It was, seemingly, broken up into 
small parties, and disposed of at St. Marc, Jeremie, Grande 
Alice, the Mole, and Port au Prince, superintending under 
their officers, the execution of various works which were deemed 
essential for defence, on account of the arrival at Cape Fran(;ois 
of Rochamboau, Santhonax, and several other republicans of 
consequence. In these and former works the men seem to have 
exerted themselves with zeal, and to have obtained commenda- 
tion for their good conduct. " Indeed, I must say," writes 
Captain M'Kerras to Sir W^illiam Green, the chief engineer, 
under date July, 17'JG, "that I have never seen a better set of 
people in every respect and manner than they were." 

To a great extent tiie fever still prevailed in the West 
Indies, and had raged fearfully during the months of June 
and July. It was not confined to any particular island, but was 
general throughout the group. Never had a more melancholy 
scene of mortality attended any expedition than befel those to 
St. Domingo and the Windward Islands. Of the company of 
military artiticei-s at the for.ner island, twenty-five had died in 
June and July alone, and by tlie end of the year it was reduced 
to nineteen men only. Tlie Caribboe Islands' company, during 
the same period, suffered still more severely ; inasmuch as it 
was dimiuisluHl from seventy-sevi-n to tl'.ivty-one of all ranks ; 
whilst the company that served at the captures of Martini(]U(>, 
St. Lucia, and Gaudaloupe, in ITiU, had frittered away by 
deaths and invaliding to eigliteen non-commissioned officers and 

• 'london Gazette,' 23rd to 20tli Jiily, 179fi; takes notice of the piivato 
wounded, but not of the sergeant taken prisoner. 




men." Of the survivors more than Iialf were incapacitated for 
duty from sickness, and, ronsequently, tlie services of the dejMirt- 
ment pressed very heavily upon the effectives. On the 1st 
September the remnants of the two latter companies were amal- 
gamated, and reached a total of 49 of all ranks. 

In June a detachment of one sergeant, two corporals and 
twenty artificers, embarked for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where 
the classes of tradesmen most needed for the works could not 
be obtained excejjt at extravagantly high wages. Some care 
was therefore taken to select mechanics fully equal to the re- 
quirements of the settlement. The detachment landed in 
September following, and (.VpUiin iTames Straton, commanding 
royal engineer, was appointed to command it. Various works 
were in progress at the time of their arrival, to which they were 
distributed according to circumstances ; but the service upon 
which they were chiefly employed was the erection of the light- 
house in Halifax harbour. Over this work, private Dougal 
Hamilton, a very intelligent and skilfid mason, was appointed 
foreman, and acquitted himself throughout with credit. Sub- 
sequently, when about to quit the province as an invalid, 
H.R.H. Prince Edward ordered his immediate disembarcation, 
and placed him at the disposal of the treasurer of the settle- 
ment, by whom he was employed as a foreman in building the 
Sliolburne Lighthouse on the coast of Halifax. 

Early in the spring a party of the Portsmouth company was 
detached to Calshot Castle to repair and strengthen it ; and 
another fi-om the Guernsey half company, to renew the defences 
at the Island of St. Marcou. In carrying on the works at the 
latter place, privates Roger Hambly and Hugh M'Laughlin 
were dreadfully wounded by the explosion of a mine in the 
execution of their duty. 

' Lit;uteaant, afterwards Lieuteiiaut-Geiieral, Evaft, who served with the com- 
paii) in Sir Charles Grey's campaign of l'd\, writes tlius of it : "The dreadful 
sickiii-ss then prevailing left few or none of the men after its coiiclnsion, and 
it might with truth l)e said, they came out, did their duty, and died !" 





Delaclimeiits to Portugal — To Dov«r — Transfers to the Artilltry — Enlistment 
of artificers only— Incorporation of Gibraltar companies with the corps — 
Capture of Trinidad— Draft to West Indies — Failure at Porto Hico— Fording 
the lagoon, by private D. Sinclair — Private W. Rogers at the bridge St. 
Julien — Saves his officer — Casualties by fever in Caribbean company — 
Filling up company at St. Domingo with negroes — Mutinies in the tieet at 
Portsmouth — Conduct of Plymouth company — Knieute in the Itoyal Artil- 
lery, Woolwich — Increase of pay — Murcpiis Cornwallis's approbation of the 
corps — Mutiny at the Nore — Consequent removal of detachment to Gravesend 
— Alterations in dress. 

Early in January, Lieutenant V. W. INIulcaster, R.E., with a 
party of one sergeant, one corporal, five artificers, and four 
labourers of the Woolwicli company, enii)arkod for Portugal 
to join the force under the connnand of J..ieutcnant-Goneral 
Charles Stuart, which was sent to that country for the purpose 
of preventing its invasion by the annics of France or Spain. 
The nature of the service did not call for any display of cha- 
racter, and the detachment being withdrawn in October IT'jy, 
immediately proceeded with the expedition to IMinorca. 

In February one corporal and seven miners of the Plymouth 
company were detached to Dover to carry on the mining opera- 
tions at that station under ('a])tain H. Bruyores, K.E. They 
were farther increased in October to two cor[)orals, eleven 
artificers, ten labourers, and one drunnner, as well to conduct 
the mining as to assist in repairing the works on the Western 
Heights. A detachment was also sent from this »!ompany to 
Berryhead near Torbay, to erect fortifications. 

A great deficiency occurring in the ninnerical establishment 
of the royal artillery, the Mast(!r-Geiieral desired that as nianj 




of tlic labouHM's of tli(! corps of artilicors as were anxious tu 
avail themselves of the opportunity of transferrinjr their services 
to that regiment, should he permitted to do so. The transferring 
continued from Mareh to ^lay, and tlie corps was thus reduced 
sixty-seven men, each of whom received one guinea on being 
accepted by the Artillery.' 

This reduction in the establishment of the labourere was 
followed in August by an order, that the recruiting for the 
corps should be limited to the artificer part only. Labourers 
and men not bred to the regulated trades were no longer en- 
listed, and every artilicer so enlisting only received the bounty 
and subsistence of a laboLier, until he had been approved as a 
competent artificer. ThisWi?s a wholesome precaution, as those 
enlisted under the assumed name of mechanics were continued 
an labourers, until industry and improvement had rendered them 
worthy of advancement. 

In June the soldier-artificer corps at (iibraltar was incor- 
porated with the royal military artificers. Ever since its fonna- 
tion in 1772 it had held a distinct position, and was an integral 
body of itself. Its establishment was two companies of ■') ser- 
geants, 5 corporals, 2 druunners, and 125 private artificers 
each, with 1 sergeant-major to both comi)anies ; but its actual 
strength on the amalgamation was only 255 of all ranks. In 
the regular monotonous routine of that garrison there was little 
occasion for their services except as artificei-s. At this period 
their conduct was far from commendable. Much addicted to 
drunkenness, they were the constant subjects of courts-martial ; 
but on the works, under the eye of their officers, they behaved 
well and were very good mechanics, particularly the non- 
commissioned officers, who, besides, were skilful foremen. IJy 
the incorporation of these companies with the corps, it was in- 
creased from 801 to 1,075 of all ranks; but its actual strength 
only reached 75'J men. 

' One of these labourers, Jolin Alexander, enlisteil in the Chatham company 
15th .Inly, 17'J(), and was transferred 1st April, 1797. Forty years afterwards 
he was conmiissioned as quartermaster in tlie royal horse artillery, and after 
eleven years' service in that rank, retired on full-pay iu 1847, and died in 




Sir Ralph Abcrcroinbie having resolved to make an attcin])t 
on the island of Trinidad, an ex])edition under himself and 
Admiral Harvey sailed accordingly froni Martinique on the 12tli 
1" ebruary. To this force were attached one sergcant-ninjor, two 
corporals, and nineteen artificers, under Major C!harles Shipley, 
and Lieut(>nants Gravatt and Lefebure, royal engineers. From 
an accident by tire, which consumed the enemy's ships on the 
night preceding the morning arranged for the attack, the island 
became an easy conquest and surrendered by caj)itulation on the 
iHth February. 

Soon after the taking of this island, a detachment under 
Lieutenant Ford, R.K., of three sergeants, two corjiorals, and 
twenty privates, drafted from the Portsmouth company, landed 
and joined Major Shipley's company at Martini(iue, the 
strength of which, with the increase, amounted to sixty-Kve of 
all ranks. 

Sir Ralph Abcrcromble and Admiral Harvey now assembled 
an expedition against Porto Rico and landed there on the 
17th April. The company of artificers furnished about forty 
non-commissioned officers and men for this service, including 
Lieutenant Ford's party. Here they constructed, assisted by 
a party of liie 14th regiment, two batteries, one for mortal's and 
the other for guns. A large nuigazine abandoned by the 
enemy, was also partially converted into a battery for two 
mortal's, but its completion was reliiupiished in consequence of 
the ordnance intended to arm the battery having been swamped 
in a morass in crossing. Notwithstanding the exertions made 
to reduce the place, the enterprise failed, and the troops were 
withdrawn on the 30th April. Previously, however, to eflect- 
ing the evacuation, the artifici-rs, to prevent the enemy following 
in the retreat, destroyed the bridge which connected the island 
of St. Julien with the main ; and afterwards hastily reared a 
breastwork of sandbags to cover the embarkation, which, how- 
ever, was not required, as the exj)edition was suffered to leave 
the island unmolested. The cjisualties in the military artificers 
were five privates killed, viz., Joseph Featherstone, George 
Clark, Samuel ILigue, George Winter, and John Cameron, 




and four sc'voroly womidrd ; IjCttidos about twenty more who 
sustiiiued sli^dit rontusioii.s or uuitilatioiis." 

Auiong the measures sujige.-ited for reduciiifj; Porto Rico was 
one for taking the town, by forcing tlie troo])s througii the 
higoon bounding the east side of the ishmd. Uefore the 
project could be entertained, it was considered advisable to 
ascertain if the stream were fordabie. An officer of Sir Ralph's 
staff having recjucsted permission to undertake the service, h" 
was voluntarily accomi)anied by private David Sinclair of the 
military ailiticers. In the night, at the appointed hour, both 
entered the lagoon together, each provided with a long start". 
With this support they probed their adventurcus way, and at 
length succeeded in gaining the opposite slope ; where, standing 
near one of the redoubts which defended a broken bridge, they 
distinctly heard the vigilant sentinels talking and walking on 
their beats, W"\t\\ the same caution as before, they ])i(ked 
their course back again, and then coolly repeated the duty 
witliout the aid of props. The officer rej)orted the ford to Im 
fully practicable, and at the same time lauded the intrepidity 
of the soldier who accompanied him. ThereujKJn Sir Ralpii 
praised him for his gallantry and rewarded him with a Johannes 
— a piece of eight dollars. The idea of making the assault by 
passing the stream was given up, in consequence of the British 
force being too weak to cope with an enemy powerful in men 
and means, and almost imj)regnal)lc in position. Sinclair died 
the 28th July, 1797, and during his short career in the West 
Indies, an officer under whom he served left this testimony 
to his worth, " that he was ever conspicuous in every service." 

Determined upon relinquishing Porto Rico, Sir Ralph ordered 
Lieutenant C Lefebnre, of the royal engineers, with a detach- 
ment of the artificers, early in the morning of the 30tli 
Aju'll, to repair to the bridge which connected the island of 
St. Julien with the Main and demolish it, for the purpose of 
preventing the Spaniards following and harassing the army 
during the retreat. The bridge was an old crazy structure of 

« In till' 

' London Gazette,' .Ird to Gth Jiiiie, 1 7'JT, the killed only are 








1 M 






>*t()iie cousistiiifr of iiino nrcln's. All were directed to work at 
the roud-way of the centre arch, Imt to private Wiliiain Uojjrera, 
at liirf particular rc(pu'st, wa.s assi^fiicd tlie difficult and dan- 
ycrourt duty of dialodffiiip tlie key stone. The ground was soon 
iiarrowed up, a pip made across the middle, several stones were 
removed from th'j pier-heads, and the hridj;fe exhibited sifjns of 
instability. Noiiiinij daunted, Hoj/ers lioldly stepjted upon the 
crown of the arch, and after u few heavy blows with his 
j)ickaxe, scooped the stone from its bed. At once the arch 
gave way ; and the others leaning towards it, cracked as 
thon<,di torn by an earthquake and fell bi>neath him. llo<rers's 
situation was one of innninent peril, but with a fearlessness that 
was remarkable, he plvmjred from the crundtlinf^ bridjre into the 
stream, and was fortunately preserved from any serious harm, 
wiiil.>t live of his comrades were crushed to death by the fall ; 
lonr also were severely wounded ; and all the rest, save corporal 
William Robinson, were injured. 

Nor was this all. Uoijers swam about the heap to afford 
help to those who were suffering and dying. It was yet dark, 
aiul the thick dust still rising from the fall, made the darkness 
denser. Groping, therefore, among the ruins, he found an 
individual who still had signs of life, struggling, inetfectually, 
to free himself from some massive fragments that entangled 
him. Rcjrers set to work to release the drowning man : this 
he quickly accomplished, and, swimming with his charge to 
the shore, the rescued turned out to he his own officer — 
Lieutenant Lefeburc. The life of that gallant subaltern, how- 
ever, was only -prolonged to fall a sacrifice to his heroism on tin; 
walls of Matagorda in 1810. Rogers's exertion* were not 
confined to his officer only, for several of his comrades who 
were precipitated into the water and were unable to swim, he 
saved, assisted by those of the party who had sustained but 
trivial injuries. 

A desolating epidemic still raged in the Caribbee Islands 
and greatly diminished the numbers of the company. In 
November particularly, the climate was extremely hot and 
unhealthy and the deaths by fever considerable During the 
year the cjisualtics were, deaths, thirty-one, of which fifteen 




occurred in November ; sent home invalided, six ; deserted, 
t\.o ; total, thirtv-nine ; leavinfr the company, of all ranks, only 
thirty-three strong at the cud of the year. 

At St. Domingo the greal want '>f artificers for the service 
of the engineering department being severely felt, (Captain 
McKerras, R.E., in February, represented the expediency of 
keeping up the company with negroe-. The nund)er of the 
military artificers then serving in the colony was nineteen of 
all ranks, a third of whom were consUmtly unfit for any kind of 
duty, sutferiiig as tliey did from over exertion and frccpient 
relapses of remitting fever. To Europeans the climate was 
"the most pernicious and abominable ir. the universe," and 
none hut the strongest jould at all bear up against its influ- 
ences. To fill up the vacancies in the company, therefore, by 
drafts of mechanics from I'^ngland, would have ir.iurred a 
heavy outlay without reannig a commensurate return. Con- 
siderations like these piomp^' <l O.ptain McKerras to suggest 
the measure, and hj was further influenced by the conviction, 
that, since civil labour could not be procured in the colony unless 
at an enormous expense, that of the slave would, after receiving 
instructions from the present climatized artificers of the company, 
be found of groat advantage to St. Domingo, and a vast saving 
to tl;e public. The slave artificer was to receive food, clothing, 
and barrack accommodation, but no jjay. Whatever attention 
may have been paid to the proposal, certain it is, that the com- 
pany was never recruited by blacks. This probably arose from 
the island having been abandoned in the autumn of 17!)8.'' 

The mem^rable mutinies in the fleet at Spithead at this 

' Sir Charles Pasley, i-. the prefatory iintes to his work on ' Elementary For- 
tification,' vol. i., p. 4, writes of the inelficiency and misconduct of detachments 
sent on foreign service, and concludes liis observations by saying, " I am told 
in the West Indies, it had actually been proposed to employ negroes as engi- 
neer soldiers." If the above is the recommendation Sir Charles alludes to, 
he has either been misinformed of the reasons for that proposal, or he has mis- 
taken t.Sem ; for the detachment was composed of good non-commissioned 
officers ana well-qualified artificers from the Woolwich and Chatham com- 
panies ; and in the discharge of their several duties, gave every satisfaction to 
their officers. The proposal was dictated by humanity, as well as with a view 
to the prospective advantage of the public, and in no respect originated in the 
luisheliavionr or inefflciencv of the men. 





tinio were followed by the rising ot «)mc uiijmncipled men, 
who, as emissaries of revolt, traversed tlio country cndeavour- 
'ng by every device to shake the allegiance of the soldiery. 
Efforts of this kind were also .attempted with the royal military 
artificers, particnlarly at the ports, but beyond a few deser- 
tions, without efTect. Most of the companies pnblicly op])osed 
these agencies; but the Plymouth company in an especial 
manner distinguished itself by its open and soldierlike activity 
against 'Heir disloyal exertions. 

The document,^ printed by the company and widely circulated 

■" A copy of the document is snlijoinud : — 

Plyiiioutli Lines, ;!lst May, IT'JT. 
V,'e, the 
Non-coinuiissioncd Officers 
Of ''■'-' Company of Koyal Military 
Artificers and Labourers, 
Stationeil at Plymouth Lines, 
('onic forward at the unanimous request of the C;omi)any, to avow at tins 
momentous crisis, our firm loyalty, attachment, and fidelity to our most gra- 
cious Sorcreiiin and our C''-ii, and solemnly declare our firm determination 
to maintain subordhuition and discipline to our officers, with whom we have 
every reason to be fully satisfied, aad request they will accept these, our most 
grateful acknowledgments for their humane attention towards us, and \k^ ihey 
will let this our determination be made known to the Ill;}ld Ihrnmr^ihlc ilcncrnl 
Loril (Icniye llcnri /.I'ltnoj; Governor and Ccmmaiuler-iu-Chief in this district. 

That, as we learn, there are men endeavouring to withdraw His Majesty's 
siililicrs from the duty they owe to their Kin;/ and Cuuntiii, we are determined 
should any sucl' proceedings appear amongst us, to take the earliest opportunity 
of checking the same; and, as a mark of our attachment to our most gracious 
Smereijii and glorious Cunstitution, we do liereby offer a reward of 

Ten Oiiiiwax, 

to any su'dicr-nrtijirei; that will discover any person, or persons, offering them 

miMi-ij, si'iliti'iis /iiinilbllln, or otherwise, with an intent to withdraw them from 

their duly, on convi'ition of t!ie person, or persons, before a civil magistrate. 

God save the King ! 

Witness our hands, 
(Signed) V/m. Hhownk, ricrgeant-major. 

Rout. Wakeiiam, i 
Wm. DumiKss, I Sergeants. 
Jas. Mom, I 

Jno. EVELIN, j 

Wm. lltiTTON, I Corporals. 

Wm. McllEATH, I 

Josh. Wei.i.s. Lanee-corporals. 

Wm. Heeii, I 




through Devonshire, was sent by Major-Gencral Mercer, cap- 
tain of the company, to Lord Cornwallis the Master-General ; 
who expressed very great satisfaction with the loyal sentiments 
it avowed, and highly aj)proved of the spirit and zeal of the 
men in giving the declaration publicity at so opportune a 

Some delay occurring in extending the King's beneficence to 
the Ordnance corps with respect to the increase of pay, the 
royal artillery at \Voolwich, impatient to obtain it, exhibited 
unmistakable symptoms of discontent and insubordination. 
" More pay ; less drill !" were their constant complaints, and 
hundreds stood by their arms ready to use them in compelling 
attention to their claims. One night particularly there was 
much disturbance, and next morning about daybreak, the 
Commandant of the garrison, (^olonel Farringdon, of the royal 
artillery, ordered the whole of the military artificers to proceed 
to the artillery barracks and barricade the rear entrances. 
Captain Ilolloway, R.E., complied ; and whilst the men were 
effecting the service as quietly as circumstaiices would admit, 
they were discovered by tlie mutineers, who showered upon 
them sundry articles of barrack furniture ; and then bursting 
open the doors, fell upon the party and forced them from the 
barricivdes. Colonel Farringdon, who was witnessing the pro- 
gress of the work, felt the shock of the sortie, and at once 
ordered the conqjany of artificers to be witlidrawn to preserve 
them from further danger. In the course of the morning the 
Duke of York made iiis appearance, and on promising to give 
the claims of tlie regiment immediate consideration, the dis- 
aftected were appeased and returned to duty. 

Already the subject of i)ay to the Ordnance corps had been 
under review, but the emcutc at Woolwich hastened the decision 
upon it. It was clear that the various allowances — permanent, 
incidental, and temporary — were insufficient to answer the 
objects for which they were intended ; and also, that the 
ajiplication of them from sundry causes was both intricate and 
difficult. It was theref'jrc recommended to discontinue all 
extra allowances, except a small sum, annually, for defraying 





the expense incurred in altering clothing ; and issuing a rate 
of pay to all ranks adequate for every purpose, which measure 
His ^liijesty approved in a warrant dated 25th May. A 
comparison of the military allowances of the artificers prior to 
the j)ronmlgation of the new warrant, and the pay sanctioned 
on 25th May, is subjoined : — 

Pay per diem 

' iK-forc 

25lh May, H97. 


I'ay per diem 
by \\ arrant of 
25tli May, 1797 

s. d. 


s. (/. 

Sergeant . . 
Corporal . . 
Artificer . . 

. . 2 .3 
. . 9 



2 9i 
2 3i 
2 OJ 
I 2i 

Drummer . . 

. . (» 9 


1 24 


. . (! 


1 Oj 

In promulgating the augmentation of pay to the corps. Lord 
Cornwallis felt it his duty to accompany the pleasure of the 
King with an expression of his own sentiments ; and accord- 
ingly, in the orders dated .Slst May, issued on the 2nd of 
June, he thus wrote : — 

"Marquis Cornwallis, Mastei -General of the Ordnance, feels 
himself hapi)y in announcing to the corpo of royal :r:i'itary 
artificers and labourers the increase which His Majesty has 
been graciously pleased to make to their pay, which puts it in 
their power to enjoy every comfort which a good soldier can 
reasonably desire. 

" Tiie JMaster-G'encral takes this oj)portunity of expressing 
his satisfaction at the regular behaviour and good conduct 
which this corps has manifested, and trusts it is not in the 
power of the most artful traitor to seduce the soldiei-s of the 
royal military artificer and labourers from their loyalty and 
attachment to their King and country; and when he assures 
them he shall always take the greatest pleasure in rendering 
them a service, he is persuaded they will contiiuie to prove 
themselves deserving of his good oflUces." 

■■' Tlie extras were allowed the men to provide tlieni with bread, a pair of 
brcejhes once in two years, and a rosette; and to pay the expense of making 
up their gaiters, and oonvei'linp their unit'oini coats, after a certain period, into 

vol,. I. 1 




Scarcely bad the mutinies at Portsmouth subsided, before a 
more formidable one ajtpeared in the fleet at the Nore. Ecjui- 
table concessions had already been made to the navy ; but at 
the Norc these were not received with satisfiiction. Other 
exorbitant demands were made by the Nore seamen, and legi- 
timate authority was resisted even by force of arms. This 
bold menace then led the Government to compel unconditional 
submission ; and the instigators of the mutiny, with Richard 
Parker at their head, suffered the extreme penalty of th(> law. 
During this alarming outbreak, the company of artificers in the 
Mcdway division were very zealous in the completion of various 
works to be employed against the mutineers, should the crisis 
arise to require them. The companies at the difTerent ])orts 
were also on the alert and distributed to several posts of 
importance. A detachment of sixteen non-commissioned officers 
and men — withdrawn from Gravesend in April — were returned 
to that station in June. This detachment erected two batteries 
at Northfleet for four and two guns of heavy calibre, to fire 
into the ' Neptune,' 98, and ' Lancaster,' 04, lying ofi' Grcen- 
hitlie, should they attempt without proper or(lei"s to j)ass to 
the Nore. They also made such repairs as were necessary t) 
the blockhouse and batteries at Gravesend, and also strength- 
ened the fortifications and renewed the furnaces for boating 
shot red-hot at Tilbury Fort. Here also, before returning to 
Woolwich in August 1708, the detachment built a wooden 
river-wall at the Perry-house. 

This year the cocked hat was revived. It was an adaptation 
of the pinched-up Nivernois hat and the ample Raniilies. The 
flaps were edged with broad black binding instead of gold lace 
as formerly. The cockade and gold loop were retained ; but 
the short red feather was dis})lacod by an eight-inch length 
white heckle. At each of the shoots or angles of the hat was a 
••ose-shaj)ed ornament of gold lace. The hats of the sergeants 
and sergeant-majors were of equal fineness and edged with 
black silk lace, flowered ; while those of the corjrorals, artificers, 
and drummers were much superior to the labourers. The 
latter did not wear roses. Alterations were also made in tlic 



17117. ■ 

to wluii 

'i - 


;..,• ■.■-.:. .U l.'i.g ;>kilX,,. .... .■••(Ilv. 

.,,«,t With Abort skirts. La|>pels w«n; 

-t4 Stti>|>if^^' was «wceeded by frogging. 

I.'t fur the first tinje, ^^it'n the usual 

stiU in vtij^iii.' ; hut llie use of hair 

V CK! now «ern over the coatees of the 

,i»tinctiou. S<H^ Baf "' 


X. '■ 




dress, inasmuch as the coatee, with its long skirts, was reduced 
to what was called a half-coat with short skirts. Lai)pels were 
abolished, and the laced looping was succeeded by frogging. 
Tlie drummers wore scarlet for the first time, with the usual 
livery lace. Clubs were still in vogue ; but the use of hair 
powder «>ased. Sashes were now worn over the coatees of the 
ranks entitled to the distinction. See Plate VIII. 





1798— 171)!). 

Contribution of corps to the State— Detachmi'iit tli expedition to ninritime 
Flanders — Destruction of tlie Hruges canal .iile near Ostenil— Draft to 
West Indies — Capture of Surinam — St. Domingo evacuated — Kxpedilion to 
Minorca — Conduct of detaclinunt while serving there — Composition of de- 
tachments for foreign service — I'arties to Sevenoaks and Harwich — Mission 
to Turkey — Its movements and services — Special detachment to Gibraltar to 
construct a cistern for the Navy — Detachment with the expedition to Hol- 
land — Its services— Origin of the Royal Staft' Cori)s. 

France, having but little occuj)ation for lior armies, turned 
her attention to England and matin-cd arrangements on a scak^ 
of surpassing magnitude for its invasion. In this country all 
ranks and orders of men were affected by tlie threat ; and such 
was the sjjirit of military ardour it induced, that corps of volun- 
teers were rapidly embodied to meet the exigency of the times. 
Throughout the kingdom the wealtliy contributed largely to 
assist the measures for defence ; and the annj-, influenced by 
the j)opular feeling, joined in the demonstration and tendered 
subscrij)tions to the Government to aid in the realization of its 
purj)oses. The corps of military artificers also, prompted as 
well by a desire to relieve the general burden of the nation as 
from gratitude to the King for the recent addition to their pay, 
gave, in February, a contribution of three days' pay to the 
Treasury, to be applied as should be considered best for the 
defence of the state.' In acknowledging the letter conveying 

' The following is a copy of the letter of the Woolwich company, offering 
tlie contribution above alluded to; — 

Sin, WoiiIhIc./i, \2tli Fcbninrti, 17<)8. 

At a time when the exigencies of the State appear to reciuire the 
assistance of every good subject to alleviate the general burden our fellow- 
bubjeets bear, it is the unaninions wish of the non-commissioned ofBcers, 




the jifift, fJi'iionil Morce, the ( !oh)n('l-( )oniinaii(lniit, writes 
iiiider (late of i;>th Februnry, "their loyal and laudable offer 
hivs art'orded iiie jjreat .sitist'action." 

All expedition under Major-General (Joote was fitted out in 
Mav, at aMarfrate, for service against maritinie Flanders. 'I'lu' 
desiifii of the enterprise was to destroy the works and sluices of 
the Bruges canal near Osteiid, and to cripple the internal 
navigation. To etlect these services a detaehinent of the corps, 
experienced in mining, from the ('hatliam and Plymouth com- 
panies,^ under Lieutenant l?rownrig<r, royal engineers, was 
attached to the force and sailed from Margate on the 14tli 
May on board II. M. S. ' Expi'dition,' in which was CJcneral 
(.\)ote himself. 

The force disembarked in three divisions on the IDtli May, 
and the artificers, who had been instructed on board ship by 

ai'tifioers, ami labourers of the corps of Royal Military Artificers, Sec, at this 
place, to iiiiiiiif'est tlie Rrutitmle they owe their Kin;; anil country for the late 
increase of pay, as well us their attachment to His Majesty's person and go- 
vernment, anil tlieir zeal tor the service in which the country is engaged, by 
offering a contribution of three days' pay, to be applied as may be thought 
best to the defence of the State. 

We request you will l)e pleased to lay this our wish before the Colonel Com- 
mandant of the corps f' :iis approbation. 

Signed on behalf of toe artificers and labourers, &c., of the corps of Royal 
Military Artificers, S;c,, at Woolwich, and with tlieir unanimous consent. 

Tiioa. Foirri'NE, 

.IAMKS DoU(iI.A8, 

.loii.N Levick, 
EuwAKi) Watson, 
RonT. Hdtciiinso.n, 
John Youno, 

BenJ. lioilKRTS, 

William Main, 
Hugh Kinnaird, 
Captain Charlie IIoli.oway, 

('ommanding the Itoyal Military 
Artificers, Sec, at Woolwich. 
* The greater jiart of the detacliment had been specially employed in mining 
services at Dover. 


I Corporals. 


« ICnIistcd as a matru^s in July, 1761, in tlie royul urtillory, luid was pensioned from llmt 
I' glnicnl in Octdhor, I7M. On Miiy 1, IY96, lie onliatal Into llif lioyiil Military Arliniers, nl tin- 
agi' of 6a! ancldjpcl «i ('iimorlMiry, AiikusI hi, IJ'.W. Wus known as dii' aullior of ,i small work 
called " The Arlllleri6l'K ('onipanlon," |ml>lislicd liy l)gerton in I7»e. 



I I71>t<. 

Lieutenant Brownripg in the duties iT(|iiireil of them, accom- 
panied the first divisiion, provided witli intrencliinjir tools, wooden 
petiirds, &c. On landing, the troops took possession of the 
forts that protected the sluices, in order that the intended work 
of dest' uction might be carried on successfully. The artificera, 
with company from the 23rd regiment and a detachment of 
royal artillery, c'?ni.iifci;r'ed the appointed work, and in alwut 
four houro laid the locks, gntes, and sluices in ruins, burned 
several gun-boats, and effected an explosion in the basin of the 
canal that almost dcmolislicd it, and drained it dry. In this 
service the exertions and efficiency of the party may be inferred 
from the praises bestowed by General Coote upon Lieutenant 

Having thus accomplished the object of the expedition the 
troops were ordered to re-embark. At the a])pointed hour 
the weather had become boisterous, and the violence of the 
surf rendered it impracticable to reach the shipping. A posi- 
tion was, therefore, taken up on the siind-hills before Ostend, 
which was strengthened in the night by the military artificers 
with intrenchments suitable to the occasion ; but on the 20th, 
the British, hemmed in by a much stronger force, were com- 
pelled, after an obstinate contest, to surrender themselves 
prisoners of war. The casualties in the detachment were — 
killed, two ; wounded, five ; and thirteen, including the wounded, 
taken prisoners.* The survivors returned to England, and re- 
joined their companies in March, 17911. 

Li the West Lidies the Caribbean company was reduced at 
the end of the previous year by fever to thirty-three men, who 
were distributed in ones and twos ihrougb different districts of 
the conquered islands. None could be spared for active duty 
without detriment to other services equally important ; and 

' " Lieutenant IJrownrigg, H.E., in uliout four hours, made all his arrange- 
ments, and completely destroyed the sluices ; his mines having, in every par- 
ticular, the desired effect, and the object of the expedition thereby attained. 
• * * In Lieutenant Brownrigg, 1 found infinite ability and resource : his 
zeal and attention were eminently conspicuous." — Loudon Gazette, 17 to 21 
July, 17'J8. 

■* 'London Gazette,' 17 tn -21 .July, 1798. 





several expo(litioii8 were, tlicrot'ore, iiiidtTtakeii without ii mili- 
tary artificer accoinpaiiyiiitj tiieiii. In some iiieaaure to Mipply 
the iiiiiiKM'oiw vacaiicieH that had occuned, (nie ciirpDral and 
twenty-nine privates eiid)arkod in I'l-hrnary <»n luiard tiie 
'Uni(tn* transport under Lieutenant T. l\. I'Auh, U.K.; and 
on their arrival the company was increased to tif'ty-sevcn non- 
commissioned otticers and men. 

On the 2()tli Auj,'ust, tlie expedition inider Lieut.-General 
Tri<r<^e, wiiich included three corporals and eleven men of 
Lieut(!iiaut-('olonel Shipley's (rompany, captured the Dutch 
settlement of Surinam, which surrendered without resistance. 
Out- artilicer, .Fohn Nancarrow, mason, was accidentally drowned 
on this service ; and this was the only casualty that occurred to 
the expedition. 

At St. Douiinyo the detachment fast wasted away on account 
of the arduous services of the island and the diseases of the 
climate ; and on the evacuation of the place in St^ptenibcr only 
two of the com])any, with Lieutenant II. Morshead, of the 
corps,'* survived to embark with the troops. Of the original 
comjjany, which numbered forty-seven on its arrival in May, 
171)(>, thirty-six died, seven were invalided, two deserted, and 
the remaining two" were sent to do duty at Jamaica. 

In November three sergeants, four corporals, hfty-five tartifi- 
cers, three labourei's, and one drummer, tobU, sixty-six, formed 
from the party em])loyed in Portugal, and from artifieei's of the 
companies at (Gibraltar, wi-re sent with the f(n*ce under General 
(^iiarles Stuart against Minorca. On landing, the Spaniards, 
without ottering any resistance, retired into the town of (Jita- 
della, which possessed a sort of fortified oiccintr. A l)attery for 
a few field-pieces was constructed against it in the night by the 

■■* This offiocr was "ordercil to tlie West Indies willi two compniiius of the 
royal military artificers : himself and two of the privates only escaped the 
baleful effects of the climate of St. D(miiugo." — United Service Journal, i., 1S,')2, 
p. 142. 

" These were privates Adam Cowan and John Wcsto. The former was at 
once appointed sergeant and conductor of stores to Commissary Meek of the 
Ordnance. After delivering over the stores of the department at Jamaica to a 
sergeant of Ouleh emigrant artillery, ho returned to Kngland, and was dis- 
charged with a peusiou of 2s. ^'^d. u-day in April, ISM). 



iiisTO]{y oi 


artificers under Captain D'Arcy, royal engineers, and after 
firing a few shots tin; place surrendered on the loth November. 
Si.on after the cajjitulation, the detaclniient was very much 
dispersed through the island, employed on various defensive 
works ; and on Sir Charles Stuart quitting it, the military arti- 
ficers remained to restore the fortifications. In .January, 1801, 
the detachment was denominated the Minorca comjjany ; but in 
August, 1802, it was withdrawn, and being disbanded, the men 
wore distributed among the com])anies of the corps at home and 
at Gibraltar. 

During their stay in Minorca it seems that their conduct was 
not above reproach, nor their services on the works as useful as 
desired. Sir ('harkvs Pasley has recorded that they \\ere 
found to be very inefficient, and ascribes it to their having been 
selected for the expedition from the Gibraltar companies, which, 
from circumstances, were for a number of years the worst in the 
corps.' Here, liowcvcr, it is proper to add, that their inefii- 
cicncy did not arise from their want of ability and skill as 
mechanics,'* but from tlieir general irregular behaviour occa- 
sioned chiefly by intemperance. Writing of the I Gibraltar 
companies, Sir Augustus de Butts, '.i\ a letter dated 1 1 th July, 
1848, says : — " I cannot speak so confidently of their general 
conduct, but on the works, under the eye of their oflScei's, they 
behaved well, and were very good artificers, particularly the 
non-connnissioned officers." 

On the composition of detachments for foreign duty, Sir 
Charles Pasley has made some observations which may not ia- 
aj)propriately be introduced here. " ^^'hen any ex])cditii)n," he 
writes, " was to be undertaken, the number of royal military 
artificers required were in ail cases, selected by small detat'h- 

" I'asley's ' Elementary Fortifii'atioii.' \otes to Preface, ]>. iv., vol. i. 

" Several iinliviiliial proofs coiiKl be iMiluced lint two um.s suflice. Private 
Kvan Hoberts, a talented mason, was uetaclied to Malta durinji; tbe blockade of 
Valetta, and rendered good service as a foreman under Captain (lordon, li.K. 
On tbe formation of tbe Maltese artilicers, be was appninled sergeant in one of 
tbe companies to prevent bis removal to amillier station ; and Sergeant-major 
James Sbirres, formerly of tlic (iilirallar companies, from bis enrrcet coiidnct 
and merit as an artifici'r. was appointed overseer of works in tbe royal engi- 
neer depariment at I'lynioutb, in Ueccmliei, 1S(I4. 




mcMits out of till! stationary compauifis ; ami as the commandiiijy 
ciijjriiiccrrf at tlie several fixed stations were natnrally averse to 
j)artin<j; witli tlieir Ix-st men, tlm detaelimcnts tlnis formed for 
Held service, were generally con yn-ed of the stupidest and least 
trustworthy non-comniissioncd officers, and of the most ignoran , 
prof! i '.'■ate, and abandoned of the privates." ° This was, it would 
appear, the jjfcneral rule, but excei)tions may fairly be taken in 
favonr of the detachments forwarded to Toulon, St. I)omin<ro, 
Ilaliliix, and Ostend, as well as to some of the reinforcements 
sent to the Caribbee islands. These detachnievits were not 
formed of bad men weeded from the ditlerent companies, but 
of, iion-i.'oniiuissioned officers avd j.uvates whose ((ualifications 
and utility as mechanics were unquestionable, and whose conduct 
was ai)proved. 

In April and May a corporal and party of carpenters of the 
Woolwich company were detached to Sevenoaks, and there 
built temi)()rary wooden barracks for a company •' artillery : a 
second i)arty was enij)loyed in repairing Falmouth Castle from 
May to November ; and in the latter month two carpenters and 
two masons, all privates, were sent to superintend workmen in 
the erection of fortifications and temporary defences at ditlerent 
places from (Jhelmsf'ord to Harwich, in which duty they conti- 
nued until April l.SOO. 

Napoleon, by a series of successes, had gained a firm footing 
in Egypt, and the subjugation of India was contemplated by 
the French Directory. As well to thwart the intention, as to 
stimulate the Turks, the British Government detennined to 
send a military mission to the dominions of the ISultan, to co- 
operate with the Ottoman army in their hostile uu)vements 
against tlu? I'rench. The mission being formed of artillery, 
engineers, and artificers, in all seventy-six persons, under Bri- 
gadier-(;ieiie"al Koehler, of the royal artillery, embarked in 
the 'New Adventun;' transport m February, but did not sail 
from Kngland till .\pril. 'J'lie military artilicers, selecti'd by 
Major llolloway, royal engineers, from the Woolwich company, 
numi)ered one sergeant — Ivlward \\ atsoii —two corporals, nine- 

" l'ii?K'_\'s ■ I'^lt'iiU'iitaiy FmlirRMtioii. .NipU? td Prd'aeo, j). iv. vul. i. 




toon artificerti, iiml two lalmurers; and a.. Major Ilolloway had 
in'oceedod overland to (Jonstaiitinojilc,'" woro con^cqnontly jilaced 
nnder the orders of Captain Lacy, K.K. On rlio near .'ijiproacli 
of the 'Adventure' to Gibndtar she was partially wrecked. A 
(juantity of stores and some pontoons were thrown overlioard, 
and private Philip Patterson, whilst exerting himself in casting 
away the stores, was washed oti" the deck by a wave into the 
sea and drowned. On the I Ith June the transjrort arrived at 
Constantinople, and Major Ilolloway assumed the command of 
the artificers. 

On the removal of tlie mission to Levant Chitlick, fivi> of the 
detaehnuMit were detained with the officers at Buyukdere, and 
the remainder were occupied in various services at the former 
place and Kaithai.a, where they erected a furnace for heating 
shot. Shortly afterwards ex])erimenfs with red-liot shot were 
carried on in the presence of the Sultan, who, at the close of 
the j)ractiee, having reviewed the mission, presented eaeli 
person with a gift suitable to his nink. Whilst building the 
furnace, the artificers, exjjosed to marsh miasma, were early 
attacked with fever. At first the cases w(>re slight, but relapses 
following with malignity, three of the detachment died. To 
])reserve the mission, tlierefore, it was removed in October to 
the Dardanelles. Previously to the embarkation, the artificers 
I'onstrncted a handsome model of the upper castle at ( 'lienne- 
kalleh, on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles, with Mnjor 
llolloway's imjirovements, which model was presented l)y that 
officer to lladgi li)rahim EH'endi, Secretary at >\'ar for the Ot- 

'" HriK'i'litT-Gi'noral KocV.'er, Miijor Ilolloway, tin<l s!x other officers and 
gentli'iueii iiriieeeiUd liy the OMrhinil route to ('oiist;iiituiople Thr ,■ of the 
iktachiiieiit aeeonipaiiied them— [iriviites .loseph (' iiil'orl, .loiiathau l.ewsey, 
anil David Waddell " 'I'heir joiirm y in the outset, ' says Dr. Wittnian, iu his 
'Travels in Turkey,' &e.. p. ll, "hail heen atteudeil hy uuconiuion sevirities, 
sueh, however, as might have heeii expeeted from a season more rigorous than 
any which had been experienced for many years. In passing over the conti- 
nent, they had, at the entrance of the Kllie, heen shipw recked among the shoals 
of ice ; and to relieve themselves from the perilous situation, had heen under 
the necessity of luissing over the ue to the extent of two miles, to gain the 
shore; tiy this ell'ort they were providentially saved," They now prosecuted 
llu'ir journe) to (^Uistantinople. where tlicv anivid in March, I7!i;i, 




toman Porte. Subsequently, at the Dardanelles," they were 
employed in effeeting various alterations and additions to tlie 
ca.stlt! until the 2nd December, when the mission was suddiMily 
recalled to (-'oiistautinoijle ; and laudin<f on the 4tli, awaited 
orders to proceed on more active rervice.'^ 

At the instance of the Admiralty, a detachment of one scr- 
gea:;*, one corporal, and forty privates, chiefly masons and 
bricklayers, able-bodied men and good artificers, under Lieu- 
tenant C. Mann, royal engineers, sailed for Gibraltar in May 
on board the ' Fortitude,' and landed there the following month. 
The party was sj)ecially em])loy(Ml in constructing a cistern for 
naval purposes, under the military foremanship of sergeant 
Joseph Woolhead; and in October, ISOO, it was incorporated 
with the (iibraltar companies. 

England and IJussia having concluded a treaty to send an 
army to Holland to reinstate the Stadtholder, a corps of 12,000 
men, under Sir Ralph Abercrombie, embarked for the Helder 
and landed on the 27th August. Attached to this expedition 
was a party of military artificers, consisting of one sergeant, 
two corporals, thirty-five artificers — seventeen of whom were 
carpenters — and one drunmicr, commanded by Licutenant- 
Cohniel Hay, li.E. The iletachment embarked on board the 
' Amphitrite,' and disend)arking with the second division, were 
present in the action of that day. 

" Wliile he.-e, sergeant Watson of the artificers, in preparing money for the 
pajniciit of llu' mission in the presence of a Turkisli marine, ([uitted the room 
for a monu'iit, leaving the money on tlie talile. " On his return," writes Dr. 
Wittiimn, "the marine had disappeared witli IJd piastres, about '.iK Knglish. 
Having described the person of the delini|uent to the t'lipitan I'acha, iminiries 
were at once eonnneneed to detect the thief. On tlie second day after, the 
marine confessed his guilt to General Koehler, and begged his intluenee with 
the Capitrn Pacha to save his life. The (ieneral did so, but several days 
elapsed bifore the affair was disposed of. During the interval, the (ieneral, 
anxious to prevent the culprit being strangled, expressed some doubts of the 
culprit's identity; but in reply to this, the I'acha very handsomely declared bis 
full conviction that the marine /i"' taken the money, as he was certain iq 
i'lnglishman would not tell an untruth." — VVittmau's Travels in Turkey, Asia 
Minor, fic., p. tir). 

" 'l"he above particulars are ehiellj taken from Dr. Wiitman's 'Travels in 




After forming the r^nrriucer park near the IleUler, about ten 
men were left to rej)air the fort ; and the remainder, divided 
into brigades of four to each brigade, followed the troojjs in 
their forward movement in charge of the intrenching e(jui])ment 
of the expedition, which was conveyed in waggons. Karly in 
September, the detachment constructed several batteries for 
guns and mortars to defend the post at Zuyp; as also, subse- 
quently, at llooni and Egmont-op-Zee ; and to facilitate the 
march of the army to the latter place, they assisted in the for- 
mation of three flying bridges over canals that intersected the 
route. In the retreat, they were continually employed in 
throwing small bridges across the canals by means of planking, 
felled trees, and other chance materials. At Alkmaer they con- 
structed several defensive works ; and on retiring from thence, 
where three roads met, they raised, in an inc cdibly short 
time, a mound of earth about twelve feet high, acr, ss the junc- 
tion, with the view of impeding the enemy in their pursuit of 
the British. None of the military artificers were killed or 
wounded on this service. On the evacuation of Holland in 
November the detachment rejoined the com])anics. 

Here, perhaps, it would be proper to allude, in a general 
remark, to the jmicticc of providing detachments for foreign 
service. It will already have been observed, that whenever any 
expedition was undertaken, resort was invariably had to the 
royal military artificers for a selection of men to accompany it, 
suitable to the work ujjon which it was contemplated they 
would be emj)loyed ; but the numbers furnished were always 
insufl5cient for the jmrpose, and no representations or remon- 
strances could avail in altcrhig a custom, which, from causes 
not easily surmised, seems to have been pertinaciously perse- 
vered in. 

This remark is hdly borne out by the statement of a highly 
distingui.-^hed oificer ; ' ' and is moreo\er corroliorated by the fact, 
tliat about this tinu", the particidai atteutioii of tlie ('(Miniiaiidcr- 
in-Chief was drawn to the sulijrct, without, however, accom- 
plishing what the interests ol' the service grertly needed. It is 

" ISir Jdlni .Inius, iii liis ' Sii'pt's.' vol. ii.. nolc .')8, p. JlU'.t, 'Jiiil cilit. 



1 L'.-) 

said, that when the Duke of York was prepaniijr his expedition 
for llolhuul, he deuiandod efficient aBsistai-x from the royal 
eiijrineer.s and royal military artifioors, which, f<n- sonic reason, 
the Ordnance anthoritios reluctantly met with an inadwinate 
provision. Annoyed by the linntcd number tendered, his Koyal 
llio-hnessdetennined to cstal)lish a corps competent to discharge 
the duties usually devolving u])on the royal engineers, " which 
should be absolutely at the disposal of the Horse Guards; and 
as his Royal Highness held office in times when the thoughts of 
statesmen were bent rather to render the means of the country's 
defence complete, and to aid other nations in opposing the 
airtri-essions of an arrogant and unscrupulous power, than to 
effect savings in the iinblic expenditure, he found no difficulty 
in consummating his wishes, and hence aro.-e the royal staff 


'* GIc'ib's ' Military History,' xxxvii.. p. iS7 


iiisTouY OF Tin-; 



Mortality in tlif West Imlies— Wockailo of Malta — Capture of a traiispoii mi 
passage from Nova St'otia — Movements ami serviees of detacliiiieiits in 
Turkey ; attaekeil wiili fever — Aneeilote of private Thomas Taylor at Con- 
stantinople — Cruise of expedition to Cadiz — Attack on the city abandoned— 
Subsequent movements of the expedition ; Malta ; and re-embarkation for 
Kjiypt — Statistics of companies at Gibraltar. 

From the diminished sta.te of the company in the West Indies, 
and the impracticability of filling up the constantly-recurring 
vacancies by drafts from En<flaiid, authority was given to the 
Commanding Engineer in tiie Leeward Islands, to obtain on 
the spot, men for the coni])any proj)erly qualified and climatized, 
either by enlistment or transfer from other corps. This led to 
an inunediate liiiMU|iiirii(l(iii, in April, of one sergeant, twenty 
privates, and two dnnnmers, from tht; 4Hrd and otiier regi- 
ments ; and tlnrngh the plan was attended with cunsiderable 
.nu'cess, the still greater mortality from fever always ke])t the 
company greatly below its establishment. 

In addition to the repeated allusion made to the niilitai} 
artificers in the West Indies, the following statistics of mortality, 
as far as the same can now be ascertained, aH'onliug a tolerably 
cuirect idea of tht; uiihealthiness of the climate, and the sufler- 
iugs to which the men must have been subjected, may licre not 
be misplaced. 


iiOYAL SAri'r':its and minkrs. 

Number of I kmUh. 

1793 17 

1794 (i5 

1795 19 

179(i 70 

1797 37 

1798 12 

1799 10 

1800 9 

Total . 2.'!9 


Tho ajrejcjratc number of artificers and labonrcrs sent there 
from year to year, ineluding those traiisterred from otlier corps 
and enhsted on tlic s})ot, amounted to about 350. More than 
two-thirds of the number, therefore, fi^ll victims to tlie war and 
the climate ! Many also were sent home invalided, several of 
whom died on the passage, or soon after landing in England. 
At the close of 1800, the strength of the company did not 
exceed seventy-eight of all ranks, twenty-two being required to 
eoin])lete it. 

In r"ei)ruary, private E\an Roberts, an active and intelligent 
artificer, was chosen from the Minorca comj)any for service at 
the blockade of La Valetta, and arrived at Malta before the 
end of the month. From that time until the surrender of the 
fortress on the 15th of September, he served in the department 
with and efficiency under Captain Gordon, royal engineer; 
and ciiiitinued, though a private, to discharge the duties of an 
overseer of works until the formation, in iHOfi, of tlic first 
company of Maltese artificers, to which he was transferred as 

At Halifax, Nova .Sc<itia, tliree invalids embarked on board 
the 'J)iHniond' transport on the 15fli of September, with 
several invalids of ( 'ajjtaiii U. Wright's company of royal 
artillery, and sailiul witli the fleet on the IDth of thrt niontli. 
Previously to weighing anchor, private Walter Allan was 
accidentally drowiUMl in the harbour by falling overboard ; and 
the other two, privates Ninian Kerr and Samuel i\Iilman, 
were caittured by the I'reiu'li sonic tiiiic in ()ctob(>r. Hut all 
efforts to ascertain uherc, or how, the enciuy (.'fiectfij the seizure 




of the vessel with her crew and passcnnrers, have provinl un- 

Soon after the removal of the mission from the Dardanelles 
to Constantinople, Captain Lacy and Lieutenant Fletcher, K.K., 
were detached to join the Turkish army in Syria. \\'ith these 
officers two military artificers were also sent, mw of whom 
returned from (\prus with tlu; former officer in April, and the 
other reached the mission again, some two months later, with 
Caj)tain Lacy. On the 13th of June, the artificers sailed from 
Constantinople' with the mission, and landed at Jaffa (m the 
2nd of July, where they encamped with the Turkish army and 
commenced, under the foremanshi}» of sergeant E. AVatson, the 
improvements suggested hy 3Iajor Ilolloway in the fortifications 
of that port. These, however, though far advanced, were ulti- 
mately set aside, and tiie artificers were appointed to erect 
several new works in front of Jaffii ; which, in conseciuence of 
the I'rench heing in great force at Catieh, were considered to 
be more essential than the jn'oposed alterations to the defences 
of the town. With great ceremony, on the 30th of August, 
the first stone of the intended new bastion was laid by the 
Grand Vizier ; and shortly after, his Highness having reviewed 
the mission, marked his a})])robation of their ajjpearance by a 
present to each non-commissioned officer and soldier. In 
December the fever, which had been alarmingly rife in the 
Turkish camp, attacked the mission. Its first victim was a 
military artificer ; and before the end of the month, though the 
cases of mortality were few, the mission had to lament the loss 
by death, of their commander, General Koehler, ILA., and his 
lady. Major Ilolloway, royal engineers, then assumed the 
command, and at the close of the year, a change of cantonment 

' Some time before leavinp the cily, private Thomas Tiijhir, loyal niilitaiy 
artificers, was, without any provocation, assaulted hy a Turk, wlio attempted 
to stah him with his yatikan. On a report of tliis outrage being made lo tlie 
Capitan Paeha, towliose retinue tlie Turk lielonged, lie came to a resolution to 
have him deca])itateJ. Hy the mediation and entreaties of Lord Elgin, a miti- 
gation of the punishment ensued, and the Turk, after receiving fifty strokes of 
the bastinado on the soles of his iViet, was sentenced to twenty years' imprison" 
ment in the college of Pera, tn Icini the Arnhit: hnijitnf/i'. — Or. Wittman's 
Turkey, p. W. 




linvirifj ro-ostaldislicd tlio licaltli of the men, tlie workf* at the 
now hnstion ))ro{rre?scd vigorously.'* 

In April, ii detaclnnent of one scrjreant, two corporals, and 
thirty artificers, uiidi>r (\'iptain Hryce,, acc(ini|,anied tlie 
expedition imder Sir Ralph Ai)ereronii)ie, for emplovnient on 
secret service. The men were selected from the ditlbreiit home 
companies, and all were "sufficiently (pialified in their respective 
trades, as well as able-bodied." Proceeding to Portsmouth, 
they rcmjiincd inactive for about six weeks ; and, at length em- 
barking on board the ' Asia ' transport, sailed in June with the 
ex])edition. In the (.'hannel ott" Portland, the fleet encountered 
a gale, and was driven back to Portsmouth ; but on a fair wind 
sj)ringing up, got luider weigh again, and in due time ran up 
the Tagus. From thence the 'Asia' proceeded to Gibraltar, 
lay there about a month, and sailing for ^linorc^, soon reached 
that island and landi-d the artificers ; where, for about seven 
weeks, they were employed in the construction of temporary 
barracks, &c., for the troops put on shore. At the ex])iration 
of this period, the artificers returned to the ' Asia ' and retrac- 
ing the route to Gibraltar, anchored for a fortnight. There 
they were reinforced by one sergeant, one corporal, and five 
miners of the companies at the fortress ; and at the ajipointed 
hour, the ' Asia,' again weighing anchor for Tetuan Bay, took 
water there and sailed with the fleet for Cadiz. 

When off Cadiz, the artificers were told off into *wo bri- 
gades, and six of the boldest and most expert men were selected 
to land with the first division, and the remainder with the 
second. On the morning of the day in which the attempt was 
to be made, the artificers, as a preliminary measure, removed 
all the intrenching tools and engineers' stores into the launches, 
and then took their places in the boats, provided with adzes, 
pole-axes, and miners' tools for removing imp(>diments, i^c. 
A long interval of breathless suspense followed, in which the 
seamen rested impatiently on their oars ; but, as an epidemic 
raged at the time in the city, the landing was countermandc'd, 

' Particulars for the most part obtaiiu'd from Wittnian's ' Travels in 
Tiirki'V,' Sic. 

vol,. 1. K 


lilSTOKY ol'" TilK 


and tlic uion and stores lu'infr rL'sliipjR'd, the nieditated attack 
upon Cadiz was reliiKinislied. The ' Asia," conseijuently, sailed 
for Tetuan Hay, where, (ixjjoscd to a storm, she was compellcMl 
to cut her eahle and nni fur Cape Spartol. There she 
anchored for four days, and on tlie wind shiftinj^ aj^ain made 
for the l)ay.'' 

At tliis rend(>zvons tlie fleet was divided into three divisions, 
and tlie artificers acc()in])anied that under Sir Ralph yMier- 
croniliie to Malta. Tiiere they were landed ; and after a stay 
of ahont seven weeks, during which they wen- employed \)vc- 
parin<j ])latfornis and fascines, re-emharked on the 17th of 
Deceniher, s(!ven on board the ' Ajax,' 74, Captain \\w Hon. 
Sir Alexander Cochrane, and the remainder on hoard the 
'Asia' trans])ort. Hitherto the service of the expeflition had 
been expended in a series of cruises or reconnaissances alike 
harassing and wearying, hut at length, a glimpse of ajiproach- 
ing activity hurst upon the armament. Soon the enterj)riso 
commenced, and terminated with glory to Britain by rescuing 
an inoffensive nation from the eagle grasj) of an oj)pressive 

Ever since the incorporation of the Gibraltar companies with 
the corps, the ])ower to recruit for those com])anics was vested 
in the connnanding royal engineer at tlie fortress, and, so far, 
was exercised with tolerable success. This pennission was the 
more necessary, as, from the frequent calls made upon the 
home companies to detach parties for the service of jiarticular 
expeditions, it was imjiossible, so to attend to those companies 
as to keej) them numerically complete. The effect of that 
power was, that from the date of the incorporation to the end of 
1800, n iicty-six artificers had either been enlisted or recei\ed 
as transfers from regiments in the garrison; but from the una- 
voidable exjiosure of the men to the sun in carrying on their 
working duties, and the general unhcalthincss of the climate, 
the casualties in the companies far exceeded the number that 


^ The sfvt'ii non-commissioned officers and men embarked at Gibraltar to 
join the expedition, returned to their conii)anies at the fortress immediately 
after the fiiiliue at Cadiz. 




joined. Of the increase iind ( in tlie companies for 
the above ju'riod, tlie foUowin;,' is an acoirate exposition :— 

Strengtli at the incorporation, of nil ranks . . . 
.Joined from cniployment at the naval reservoir . 
Knlibtud or transfcrreJ from regiments in garrison 


The decrease was : — 

Deaths ».'> 

Discliarges .... ."".l 
Invaliile.! .... .18 
Desertions .... J 




Wanteil to conipleli 



l< 2 






I I.I 


l^y^ |2.5 

■so ■^™ M^B 

^ i2.2 



U 11.6 



























Distribution of corps — Dispersion of West India company — Statistics — Detach- 
ment to St. Marcou — Capture of Danish settlements — Casualties in West 
India company -(Compared with mortality in Gibraltar companies — Working 
dress — Services, &e., of detachment at Gibraltar— Conduct of Sergeant W. 
Shirres — Concession to the companies by the Duke of Kent — Cocked hat 
superseded by the chaco. 

On the 1st January the corps was distributed in companies and 
detachments as follows. The names of the officers in command 
and the senior non-commissioned officers at the sc«reral stations 
are also added : — 

Woolwich . 
Chatham . 
Plymouth . 
Jersey . 
Guernsey . 
Dover . 
Gibraltar . 

Minorca • 

. Lieut.-Col. H. Fisher . . John Kaves. 
. Lieut.-Col. Thos. Nepcan Jolin Palmer. 

•)Col.JohnEvelegh . ./Jimes Smith. 
./ " (. .Alexander Spence. 

. Maj.-Gen. Alex. Mercer . William Hrowne. 
. Capt. John Humfrey . . Anthony Haig. 
. Lieut.-Col. J. Mackelcan. Andrew Gray. 

Nova Scotia 

West Indies 

Egyptian Expedition Capt. Alex. Bryce . 

Jaffa, with the Otto-|j^ ^ ^^ jj^„ 
man army .../'' ^ 

Lieut.- Col. Wm. Fyers . Joseph Makin. 

Capt. Robert D'Arcy . A ^''"8*''"^ f^ ^^}"^^' ^'"™- 

Capt. Wm. Fenwick . J Sergeant John Catto. F„c- 

Lieut.-Col. Chas. Shipley . Serg.-Maj. Matthew Hoey. 

( Sergeant John McArthur, 
•| Master Smith. 

I Sergeant Edward Watson, 
■\ Master Carpenter, 

The head-quarters of the West India company were at Mar- 
tinique, from which non-commissioned officers and men were 
detached to St. Lucia, St. Vincent's, St. Kitt's, St. Pierre's, the 
Saintes, Surinam, and Barbadoes, for the purpose of acting 




as overseers on the works or for employment on particular 

Tiie establishment of the corps was 975 ; but wanting 232 to 
conijilete, its strength only amounted to 743 of all ranks. Of 
this number 403 were abroad and 340 at home. 

Early in the year a small party of one sergeant, and seven 
artificers from the Portsmouth and Gosport companies were 
sent to St. Marcou, an island on the coast of France, seven 
miles east of Cape la Hogue, to repair the fortifications ; and 
having accomplished the service returned to their companies in 

To the expedition which proceeded against the Danish set- 
tlements in March, under the command of Lieut.-General 
Trigge, were attached one sergeant-major, two corporals, and 
twenty privates of the military artificers, who were present at 
the capture of the islands of St. Bartholomew, St. Martin, St 
Thomas, St. John, and Santa Croix. 

The loss in the West India company by fever and other 
diseases during the year amounted to twenty, whose vacancies 
were immediately filled up by transfers from the line. 

In May the working dress consisted of a blue cloth jacket 
with skirts, two serge waistcoats with sleeves, two pairs of blue 
serge pantaloons, a black round hat, and a pair of half black 
gaiters. One of the waistcoats and a pair of pantaloons formed 
the second working dress. The new jacket was made of stouter 
and better cloth than formerly ; sleeves were added to the serge 
waistcoats, and the second pair of pantaloons were substituted 
for the canvas ones. These improvements were considered 
equivalent to a linen shirt, a pair of stockings, and a canvas 
jacket previously supplied with the working suit, but which, 
from this year, ceased to be issued to the corps. 

A' the opening of the year the military artificers with the 
BritL ti mission to Turkey, reduced to fifteen men, were occupied 
in the erection of the new bastion at Jaffa, which was finished 
and the guns placed on the platforms with great pomp on 
the 27th January. Of the detachment with the mission, two 
were styled hibourcrs, from their not having been promoted to 




the rank of artificers ; and tliey, wlicn not imnediately occii])ied 
on the works, acted in the capacity of servants to Major Hollo- 
way. One of these labourers when out one afternoon some 
distance from Jaffa, exercising the Major's horses, was attacked 
by a party of Arabs on a predatory excursion, by whose fire 
the ]\[ajor's horse was killed, and the batman wounded with 
balls and slugs in nine different places. The servant of IMajor 
Hope, R. A. was also in the assault ; and by great exertion suc- 
ceeded in bearing his comrade back to the camp. Dr. Wittman, 
of the mission, with celerity equal to his skill, extracted the 
missiles and the sufferer speedily recovered.' 

On the 2nd February, Captain Lacy, royal engineers, was 
despatched to El Arish to collect military information, accom- 
})anied by a private of the artificers who early fell a sacrifice to 
the plague that prevailed there. On the 25th of that month, 
the Ottoman army commenced its march to Grand Cairo, the 
British mission being attached to the body guard of his High- 
ness the Vizier, mounted on fine horses superbly caparisoned, 
and attended by Arabs. Passing through Ashdod, the army 
encamped for a while at Gaza, where the military artificers 
were separated into three parties, and attached to the divisions 
respectively commanded by the Grand Vizier, Mahomed Pacha, 
and Taher Pacha ; but it is diflBcult to record with satisfactory 
distinctness, the particular services in which they subsequently 
participated. On the 28th Jfarch the army entere,. the Desert 
at Kahnyounes, and traversing that arid and inhospitable region 
for about 150 miles, subjected to occasional deprivation of food 
and water, and exposed to sultry heats, infectious diseases, and 
danger, reached Salahieh on the 27th April, after a tedious and 
harassing march of thirty-two days. Two of the military arti- 
ficers died in the Desert ; and the survivors, who were present 
at the capture of Salahieh and Belbeis, and in the action near 

' Either private Jonathan Lewsey or private David Waddcll, both of whom 
acted as servants to Major Holloway, K.E. The former was a powerful man, 
and remarkable from the circumstance of his haying four thumbs 1 two on each 
hand in addition to the proper complement of fingers. On the breaking up of 
the mission at Grand Cairo, these privates returned to England with that 
officer by the overland route. 

IHOI. i 



the village of Elhaiiku, entered Cairo on the 11th July. There 
they were enqiloyed during the remainder of the year, in 
renewing the bridge of boats across the Nile constructed 
by tlie 1 rench to preserve a communication with Gizeh, and 
also in rej)airing the fortifications of the city, until the 19th 
February, 1802, when they quitted for llosetta. From this 
town they were removed to Alexandria, and afterwards to 
]\[alta, where, finally embarking for England, they arrived 
at different periods in the fall of 1802 and spring of 
l^i03.^ The strength of the detachment on joining the 
Turkish mission, was twenty-four of all ranks ; eleven only 
returned ! Of the casualties eleven died of fever or the plague, 
and two were drowned accidentally. " After a series of painful, 
harassing, and critical events," says the journalist, " the labours 
of the mission closed ; and the patience, forlwarance, and cir- 
cumsiKJction of the individuals engaged in tiiis long and perilous 
service, were manifested on a variety of trying occasions, which 
required all the energy inherent in the British military 

Meanwhile the detachment of the corps with the force under 
the conniiand of Sir llalph Abercrombie reached Mannorice 
Hay ; and with the exception of the party on board the ' Ajax' : 
landed, and prepared a shipload of fascines and gabions to be 
used in the intended enterprise. Five of thd ' Ajax ' men 
were e uployed in different repairs to the vessel ; and the other 
two, assisted by a corporal of the 44th regiment, made an 
elegant double couch of mahogany cov;>r>>d with various beau- 
tifully-marked skins from Rhodes, for > ic Turkish General 
Mustaplia, which was presented to hijii ^ y Coptain the Hon. 

« Sergeant Kdwai Watson, who enlisted into the irt llery as a niatrossi 
jBn\iary 28, 1775, and joined the corps at Woolwich, March 1, 1792, was the 
senior nou-conimissioncd officer with the mission ; and in consideration of his 
zeal, ability, and iinit'orni exemplary conduct, as well in discharge of his mili- 
tary duties, as in the executive superintendeuce of the several works under, 
taken by Major Ilolloway, he was promoted, on his arrival in England, to be 
sergeant-major of the Woolwich ccnnpany. On December 1, 1810, he was 
discharged. For similar reasons corporal David Pollock was advanced to the 
rank of si'rgeant, and appointed master-smith. 
' Wittmau's' Turkey,' p. 395. 




Alexander Cochrane, R.N. On the 17th February, the fleet 
set sail for Egypt, and running into Aboukir Bay on the Ist 
March, the troops landed on the 7th, and then followed a 
display of invincible ardour and bravery on the part of the 
British, that checked France in her cjireer of success, and 
turned all her glorious Egyptian conquests into painful disasters 
and ca|)ituIations. 

With the first division were landed the seven military arti- 
ficers of the 'Ajax,' who were present in the action of that 
morning ; and eight hours afterwards commenced to trace the 
necessary works for besieging Aboukir Castle. Next day the 
remainder of the detachment landed from the ' Asia ' transport, 
and dispersed in small parties of about four each to the several 
brigades of the army, advanced to ^Ucxandria. Under the 
direction of their officers, the ' Ajax ' artificers superintended 
the construction of batteries for eleven guns and three mortars 
in front of Aboukir, laying all the platforms themselves, and 
lestoring, when damaged by the enemy's fire, the cheeks of the 
embrasures which were formed by a double row of sand-bags 
backed or strengthened by a row of casks filled with earth, a 
plan suggested by Major M'Kerras, royal engineers, previously 
to ''.is being killed ; but which v as not again resorted to, during 
the subsequent operations of the campaign. On the 1 9th March 
the castle surrendered. 

On the heights of Alexandria, the artificers with the column 
under Sir Ralph Abercrombie, superintended the erection of 
batteries and redoubts of sand-bags, fascines, and gabions, 
which formed a strong line of defence from the sea to Ljike 
Maedie. The Aboukir pjvrty joining on the 20th, also assisted 
in the works until their completion. Unable, from being un- 
armed, to take an active part in the battle of Alexandria on 
the 21st March, they occupied themselves in the essential duty 
of carrying shot, shell, and ammunition to the artillery and the 

After the battle the military artificers had the charge, under 
their officers, of renewing the works on the heights, and when 
completed were appointed to aid in eftecting the inundation of 




a portion of the country. This was accomplished by cutting 
seven channels in the dyke of the canal of Alexandria, through 
which the waters of Lake Aboukir rushed into Lake Mareotis, 
then nearly dry, and about ten feet below the level of Lake 
Aboukir. Across the Nile they subsequently threw a bridge 
of boats, to facilitate the communication between Alexandria 
and Rosetta, re-forming it when swept away by the rapidity 
of the current ; and afterwards they assisted in the construction 
of a similar bridge across the openings in the dyke of the canal 
of Alexandria for the convenience of the shipping. 

B'our of the artificers who were at the siege of the castle of 
Aboukir were att<vched to the brigade under Colonel Spencer, 
and served at the reduction of Ilosetta, Fort St. Julian — against 
which they constructed batteries for two guns and two mortars 
— Elhamet, Alkam, and Rahmanieh. 

Shortly after they proceeded to Grand Cairo and were 
|)resent at its surrender on the 27th June. A brief interval 
elapsed, when they returned to Alexandria, by the river Nile, in 
tiie dgerms which contained the field equipment of the detach- 
!nent. On reaching Alexandria, the entire detachment was 
divided into two parties, one under Captain Bryce, the chief 
engineer, and the other under Captain Ford, royal engineers ; 
and were subsequently present at the siege of the castle of 
Marabout, the taking of Redoubt de Bain, and at the final fall 
of Alexandria on the 27th August. No casualties in killed and 
wounded are reported to have taken place among the men 
during the campaign ; and though no particular testimony to 
their merits appears to have been recorded, from the circum- 
stance of their being so few in number, and from the absence of 
prominent occasions of exhibiting their zeal and efficiency, 
arising from the enemy capitulating and surrendering many of 
his works without resistance, still they were pennitted in com- 
mon with the other troops that served in Egypt, to wear the 
device of the Sphinx on their appointments. A like honour was 
also conferred upon the military artificers who served with the 
mission to Turkey. 

Immediately following the capture of Alexandria, an exjw- 




dition was sent to Elba, under Admiral Lord Keith and 
General Sir Eyre Coote. Five military artificers were attached 
to it on board the ' Amphitrite * transport, under the orders of 
Captain Birch, royal engineers ; but, when between Rhodes and 
Candia, an English man-of-war brought intelligence of peace to 
Lord Keith, and the descent upon the island was relinquished. 
Thereupon the ' Amphitrite ' sailed for Malta, where the arti- 
ficers remained for six weeks, employed in repairing the for- 
tifications. During this period, they were joined by others of 
tht detachment from Alexandria, and re-embarking, arrived in 
England in February, 1802. The residue of the detachment, 
detained for a while at Alexandria and Malta watching the 
development of events, reached these shores in August, 1803. 

On the Duke of Kent being appointed Governor of Gibraltar, 
his first care was to introduce some wholesome regulations 
for diminishing the drunkenness and crime so prevalent in the 
garrison. Stringent measures were therefore adopted with 
regard to the sale of liquors and wines in the canteens, scru- 
pulous attention was paid to the appearance of the men in 
tiie streets, and drill and discipline were rigorously enforced. 
These reforms, however, were received with much discontent ; 
and on Christmas-eve of 1802 the stifled feeling of insubordi- 
nation broke out into mutiny. 

In this erimite the greater part of the military artificers took 
an unequivocal but unimportant part. The Duke's new rules 
interfered more essentially with the practices and indulgences 
of the companies, than with any other troops in the garrison. 
Besides being subjected to the general rigours imposed on the 
troops, the artificers were deprived of the privilege of working 
privately in the town, and were once a week taken from the 
«.ommand of their own officers, and drilled and disciplined by 
the Town Major. These innovations upon old usages produced 
considerable disaffection in the companies, and many of the 
more reckless and turbulent were not backward in ranging 
themselves on the side of the mutineers. Joining a party of 
the '' oyals at night, at the Town Range Barracks, they j)ro- 
oe( dcil in company to the South Barracks, where, on api)roacii- 




in^' to make arrangeraonts for a simultaneous rising, the 18th 
lioyal Irish fired upon them, with no better result than 
tearing the feather from the hat of one of the privates of the 

This harmless volley had the effect of cooling the ardour 
of the mutineers, and the rebel artificers becoming tranquil, 
returned home; but on the Saturday following, another and 
more decided exhibition being exjjccted, the officers of engineers 
met at the barracks, to endeavour to prevent any co-operation 
with the mutineers. Meanwhile the companies received their 
working pay, and all restrictions being taken off the canteen, 
the intemperance that followed soon rendered the men too 
insensible to discharge any duty effectually, either for the 
Crown or the mutineers. During the night a strong party 
of the 25th regiment appeared at the gates to demand the 
services of the companies ; but sergeant William Shirres, as- 
sisted by a small guard of the corps, closed and daringly held 
the j'ates against the exasperated rebels, and prevented any 
comnmnication with the barracks. Without entering further 
into the progress of the mutiny, it will he sufficient to add, that 
it was soon suppressed, and three of the ringleaders of the 25th 
regiment were shot on the Grand Parade by sentence of a 
general court-martial. 

A few days after the Duke of Kent ordered the companies 
to be sjjecially paraded foe his insix?ctian. Having ]iassod 
down the ranks and moved to tiic front, his Royal Highness 
addressed them. He a])peiired to have been iiif(>rmed that 
the artificers had joined with the llnyals and 25th regiment 
in their intemperate 'isplay ; but added, that he felt every 
reluct^ince to give credence to the report, and also made 
some complimentary allusions to the services of the companies 
at the fortress. He then desired to know if there were any 
complaints, in order, if reasonable, to adjust them. The men, 
thus courteously invited, having stated their wish to be drilled 
by their own officers, his Royal Highness directed the Town 
Major to manccuvre the companies. Carefully tin; Duke 
watched the firelock exercise and the execution of the various! 




evolutions, and, expressing his satisfaction with their ap|)earance 
and drill, granted their request. 

This year the cocked hat, worn since 1797, was superseded 
hy the clmco, similar in size and shape to the one commonly 
adopted in the army. So strange an alteration — from the 
sage-like cocked hat to its trim substitute — obtained for the 
new head-gear the cimmerian appellation of the " smoke-jack." 
The white heckle feather worn with the cocked hat, was re- 
tained. See Plate IX. As time wound up, this description of 
chaco lost its upright lines for one which, ap])roaching a cone 
in shajKJ, was called the " sugar-loaf aip." The latter, again, 
was superseded by another in 1813, which, from its peculiar 
form, was familiarly styled the " bang-up." 



I lh(i2. 

«.'volii<i»<»iiv ■iiul. f?x^iMti»i' hiy PAtih*"' • " wf'i tlH'ir n|i]»cariU)ce 

tbe nirkcd hat twv-r *»n«» 1797, waa 8U|xT8C(l«d 

inilftT i» h'l' u«.i 'tWlpO to th« (inc rouuiii'iily 

urvnt "^^ ?*mi»itw an wltirntion — t'roui the 

..-kwl 'lA* f>in p»l*tifuU' — flbbiincil for the 

.»(>(nlliitiun i)f flif "Mn(ik«vj«fk." 

•ni witli tli« cookefl liat, was i«- 

uif **()ii!>'J up, this description ol 

t'H* ' »hi«h. apprmiehinK a cone 

I I'laf .ap" Tlu' hutcr^ strain, 
• M i?<J3. wliirh, from its jn-xulirti 
« ; I .■.ariy elylnl lUf " tun^ui-iip." 

I '('2. 

•• iiice 


• the 
)s rn- 

\ »fi»»^."3<i 






Party to Ceylon — The treaty of Amit-iis broken — State ofWest India company 
— Capture of St. Lucia — ^Tobago— Denierara, Ksseiiiiibo, and Berbice ~ 
Works at Spike Island — Capture of Surinam— Conduct of private George 
Mitchell — Batavian soldiers join West India Company — Fevei at Gibraltar 
— Consequent mortality — Humane and intrepid conduct of three privates — 
Invasion of England — Works at Dover— .lersey — Chelmsford — MartcUo 
towers at Eastbourne — Bomb tenders at Woolwich — Itecruiting — Volunteers 
from the Line and Militia — Treaty of St. Petersburgh — Party to Naples — 
Ditto to Hanover. 

LiEUTEXANT-CoLONEL BuiDGKS having been appointed com- 
manding royal engineer in Ceylon, he applied for a detach- 
ment of the military artificers to accompany him to that station. 
The requisite sanction being procured, six artificers, comprising 
one corporal, two carpenters, one mason, one bricklayer, and one 
smith, embarked for the East in January. The precise object 
of despatching so small a party to so distant a settlement cannot 
now be learned, but every care was taken to choose men for 
the service whose activity and abilities as craftsmen were well 
known, and whose conduct was unexceptionable. " Select," 
siiys tlie order to the officer called upon to furnifh the party, 
" such men as you wouh' '^'•efer if going on the service your- 
self." In June the pui.y arrived at Trincomalee, but what 
specific services were j)erformed by them in the colony it would 
be idle to conjecture. Before the autiunu of J 80G, four of the 
men died, but the other two held up against the climate till 
1815, when one left for England and was discharged,' and the 
other died in April, 1817. 

' John Wallace. It is related of him that he was lost sight of for many 
nuMiths, and his appearance at Woolwich gave rise to as much surjjrise as his 
person to doubt. All traces of the original niau had worn away, and from the 




Tlie treaty of peace between France and Great Britain was 
signed on the 27th March, 1802, and hailed everywhere with 
exultiition. Soon, however, Buonaparte began to exliibit a 
spirit at variance with the solemn engagement, md his irre- 
pressible ambition forced him to seek occasions for gratifying 
it. Increased power and dominion were the engrossing objects 
of his genius ; and, singular as it may appear, states and 
republics fell under his sway without his lifting a sword to 
conquer them. All this transpired while yet the burst of joy 
at the peaceful negotiation was ringing in the courts of Europe ; 
but Great Britain, though a sullen spectator of these events, 
caring more to be blamed for reluctiince than impetuosity, at 
length interfered, and the result was, that war was declared 
with the French republic on the 18th May, 1803. 

At that period the company stationed in the West Indies 
had nearly reached its establishment ; and, as the sickness, so 
rife in former years, had greatly lessened both in malignity and 
extent, the general health of the men had much improved. So 
keen was Lieutenant-Colonel Shipley about maintaining his 
company complete, that whenever a death occurred or an arti- 
ficer quitted the station through ill health, he invariably applied 
direct to the general officer in command of the troops, to order 
a tradesman of approved qualification and conduct to be trans- 
ferred to it from the line. Alike interested in the efficiency of 
the company, the general officer always acceded to his request ; 
and the comjmny, consequently, was in excellent condition for 
affiirding efifective co-operation in any active service. 

Intelligence of the renewal of hostilities soon reached the 
West India islands, and an expedition was forthwith prejjared 
to be employed in the capture of St Lucia, under the command 
of General Grinfield and Commodore Hood. To this force 
were attached one sergeant-major, three sergeants, five corpo- 

oddncss of his dress, and peculiarity of his manners, the task of recognition 
was rendered still more perplexing. Eventually, satisfactory pr.wfs of his 
identity being obtained, he was again acknowledged and dischartred on a pen- 
sion of Is. G</. a-day, his service in the corps having exceeded thirty-three 





rals, and sixty-ei^ht privates of the military artificers, who were 
ciifrii^ed, on the 22nd June, in the storming of Mome Fortune 
and taking of St. Lucia. Corporal William Dyson was killed 
at the storm,'' but of the wounded, no particulars exist Of 
the services of Colonel Shipley ana his company in this capture, 
the General, under date of June 22nd, thus wrote : — " To 
Lieutenant-Colonel Shipley and the royal engineers, he is 
indebted in a high degree for assistance anti professional 

In July the same company was present at the capitulation of 
Tobago, which surrendered without bloodshed to the forces 
under General Grinfield. " Great praise," sjiys the General in 
his orders of the 1st July, " is also due to the alertness and 
readiness of the royal artillery and royal artificers in their em- 
barkation and disembarkation, both of themselves, ordnance, 
and stores, and for their attention to their discipline and 
duties." * 

In the following Septem))er, Colonel Shipley and one ser- 
geant-major, three sergeants, one corporal, and thirty-three 
privates, were attached to another expedition under the s£.me 
General, and were present at the capture of the coloniey of 
Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice. Like Tobago, these 
islands surrendered without resistance. At each of the subju- 
gated settlements and at Trinidad, a small party was left to 
carry on the current services and improve the defences. The 
head-quarters still remained at Martinique. During the year 
the deaths in the company did not exceed twelve men ; and its 
strength at the end of the year was eighty-seven of all ranks, of 
whom only eight were ineffective from sickness. 

Early in the year Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Charles Holloway 
was a])p<)inted commanding royfil engineer at Cork, and at 
once commenced a minute examination of the fortifications 
under his charge. These were found to be defective, inasmuch 
as they did not sufficiently command the surrounding country 

* In the ' London Oazutte,' 21! to 3U July, 1803, this corporal is, by mistake 
retiinu'd ns sergeant. 

'•' ' I<ondon Gazette Extraordinary,' August !■'>, 1803. ■* Ibid. 




and harbour. Sir Charles, therefore, among many works which 
he suggested for the defence of the district, projected an exten- 
sive fort for Spike Island to be erected on the site of West- 
moreland Fort, which was to be demolished. Authorized to 
carry his plans into execution, he applied and obtained in 
October, the services of an efficient detachment of tradesmen, 
consisting of a sergeant, and master mason, thirteen artificers, 
and one labourer of the Woolwich company, to aid in destroy- 
ing the old fort and in erecting the proposed new one. As the 
works progressed and their completion was pressed, the detach- 
ment, in December, 1804, was augmented to thirty-eight non- 
conmiissioncd officers and artificers ; and in January, 1805, to 
a full company of one hundred strong, under the denomination 
of the "Sj)ike Island Company." Between five and six thou- 
sand civil mechanics and labourers were daily employed at the 
fort, over whom, to a certain extent, were placed the non-com- 
missioned officers of the company, as masters of the respective 
trades, or foremen of particular portions of the work. 

Arrangements for an expedition against Surinam having 
been perfected, Major-Gencral Sir Charles Green and Com- 
modore Hood sailed there in April. Lieutenant-Colonel Ship- 
ley, royal engineers, as also one sergeant-major, two corporals, 
twenty privates, and one drummer of the artificers accompanied 
it, the rest of the company not being available for the service in 
consequence of being greatly dispersed through the diflferent 
islands. Surinam being very difficult of approach, Lieutenant- 
(^olonel Shipley, on the 29th April, went on shore to procure 
tidings with respect to the best means of reaching the settle- 
ment. On returning, he reported that a body of tr — "" might 
be conducted to the rear of Forts Ixwden and Fredorici. 
Accordingly, twenty of the military artificers with side arms 
and felling axes, ten of the Gth West India regiment similarly 
provided, a detachment of 140 men of the (i4th regiment, 
and about thirty seamen, all under Brigadier-General Hughes, 
landed on the night of the 29th, and proceeded through almost 
impassable woods, led by negro guides, to the place of assault. 
After five hours' laborious marching, the stormers arrived near 




the rear of Frederic! Battery, wliieh was gallantly taken, as was 
also Fort Leyden soon after ; and Surinam surrendered on the 
nth May. " No obstacle," says the despatch of Sir Charles 
Green, " could damp the enterprising spirit of our seamen and 
soldiers. They underwent great fatigue in executing these 
works, which, however, they cheerfully submitted to under 
Lieutenant-Colonel Shipley, who, as usual, was tinceasing in his 
exertions." * Severe as the storming is described to have been, 
only three soldiers were killed ; of whom one was a military 
artificer,' private James Connolly, at the assault of Fort Ley- 
den. Of the number wounded, no official account has been 

Private George Mitchell, represented as a highly-meritorious 
soldier, distinguished himself in the assault, as, indeed, did the 
whole of the detachment. As well on the march as in the two 
successive assaults, he was conspicuous for his perseverance, 
promptitude, and bravery, and when entering Frederici with 
the foremost troops, was severely wounded by the side of his 
officer. Lieutenant J. R. Arnold, R.E., who led the storm. For 
his services on this occasion he was promoted to be corporal, 
and subsequently for the same reason to the rank of sergeant. 
He also received a present from the Patri^ic Fund at Lloyd's, 
in testimony of the opinion entertained of his services.' 

On the reduction of the place, the Batavian troops were 
released from their former allegiance, and at liberty to become 
either citizens in Surinam, or soldiers in his Britannic Majesty's 
forces ; but the barren and uninviting prospects that a captured 
country presented prevented many from settling, and they 
readily offered to enrol themselves under the British standard. 
Availing himself of the opportunity, Lieutenant-Colonel Shipley 

» ' London Gazette,' 19 to 23 June, 1804. ' Ibid. 

' In the subsequent campaigns of the West Indies he behaved equally meri- 
toriously ; and in garrison and the workshops always conducted himself well. 
Besides being an excellent mason and foreman, no artificer in the service, per- 
haps, had a better practical idea of mining, in which he signalized himself at 
the destruction of Fort Desaix, Martinique. After sixteen years' arduous 
service in the West Indies, he was sent to Woolwich and discharged in July, 

vol,. 1. L 




accepted the services of seventeen Batavian artificers and en- 
listed them for the company. Fourteen deaths were reported 
in the company during the year; and on the 31st December 
its strength was eighty-eight of all ranks. 

A fever of a very malignant character appeared at Gibraltjir 
in August, and continued its ravages during the autumnal 
month'si. Brought in by a foreigner, who took up his abode in 
the vicinity of the married quarters of the royal artillery, the 
disorder was soon communicated to the latter ; and, by the end 
of September, it spread with a rapidity only equalled by its 
virulence. Ere long the whole fortress was infested by the 
pestilence ; and, as if to render the calamity more awful, it was 
preceded by an earthquake, which agitated the whole Rock. 
Out of a population computed at 1(),()UU, including 4,000 
troops, no less a number than 5,946 died between the 1st Sep- 
tember and 31 st December. ■ So gi'eat a mortality in so short 
a period is unexampled in the history of that fortress." 

The two companies of artificers in the garrison were early 
visited by the e])idemic and but few comparatively escaped. 
Of those who were fortunate enough to bear up successfully 
against the disease, it was ascertained that the chief part had 
previously suft'ercd from yellow fever in the West Indies. The 
artificers' barracks at Ilargraves' Parade were a considerable 
distance from the locality where the disorder originated, and 
consequently, for a time, were free from fever ; but several of 
the men having been employed in attending the sick civil master 
artificers of the department, at their own homes in the town, 
and the married families of the companies having unrestrained 
access to the Parade, infection was thus communicated to the 
single men 'rt barracks ; and the efl^ct was seen too late to 
adopt any sanitary measures or restrictions to prevent its ingress. 
In August three men died, and in September ten, whilst the 
numbers affected by the malady were very considerable. By 
the beginning of October the fever had extensively spread ; 
and all work in the engineer department being suspended, the 
companies were confined to barracks, and the families in 
" Sir James Fellowes ' On the Fever of AiiduUibia.' 




quarters prohibited from appearing in the streets of the town 
unless from urgent necessity. Soon afterwards, to preserve 
their health, they were removed into camp at Beuna Vista. 
Nothing, however, could arrest the advance of the disorder : 
gloom and horror hourly increased, and in a very few days the 
sickness at the encampment far exceeded anything that had 
occurred at Hargraves'. By tlie end of the month a mournful 
diminution had taken place, ninety men having fallen a prey to 
the epidemic ! In November, providentially, the fever sensibly 
waned, and only twenty-three men died ; and in December, 
after carrying off four more men, its influence ceased to be felt 
at the fortress. At the approach of the disease the companies 
mustered 263 of all ranks ; but by the termination of the year 
130 had died ; thus reducing the companies to the strength of 
133." Here it may be added, that the royal military artificers 
lost during the fever more men proportionally than any regi- 
ment or corps in the garrison.'" 

Amidst so much mortality, great alarm and irresolution 
naturally prevailed ; and whilst many excusably avoided all 
possible contact with the infected, there were not wanting men 
of humanity and courage to volunteer their attentions and ser- 
vices to the sick and dying. Several instances of signal dis- 
interestedness could be recorded, and the names of not a few 
mentioned, who fell a sacrifice to their generous zeal ; but the 
following men, by their exertions and unshaken devotion in 
the I'scharge of the onerous offices assigned to them, seem to 
have boen regarded with peculiar admiration, and therefore 
deserve whatever notice can be accorded to their merits in these 

Private John Inglis performed the important duty of orderly 

" According to Sir James Fellowes, 229 men of the companies were admitted 
into liospital with the fever, of whom 1U6 recovered, and 123 died ; but as Sir 
James has omitted the statistics for August in his tables, the apparent disparity 
between the two accounts is reduced to the trifling difference of 4 only, a mis- 
take which, doubtless, occurred from some inaccuracy or accidental omission 
in the information famished to Sir James from the Ordnance Hospital records. 

'° This statement is borne out by Sir James Fellowes. See p. 450 of his 
work ' On the Fever of Andalusia.' 





to the s'ck in the hospital at Windmill-hill, and to assiduous) 
attention united marked Icindness and tenderness, shrinking 
from no difficulty and dreading no danger. During the fatal 
month of October his watchfulness and exertions were incessant, 
and his patience and humanity were as conspicuous, as his 

Private James Lawford undertook the melancholy service of 
receiving the dead, both for the artificers and the artillery, and 
conveying them to the burying-ground near the Grand Parade. 
Horrible and hazardous as was this duty, he persevered in its 
performance with a coolness and intrepidity that was perfectly 

Private James Weir was the principal gravedigger, and 
attended to his appointment with unflinching ardour and self- 
posse.ssion. Surrounded by the pest in its worst forms, and 
inhaling the worst effluvia, he never for a moment forsook the 
frightful service, but laboured or, inspiriting those who occa- 
sionally assisted him, until the necessity for his employment no 
longer existed." 

An attempt at invasion being daily expected from the French, 
earnest attention was turned to those parts of the coiist of 
England upon which the descent would probably be essayed. 
Immense sums of money were accordingly placed at the dis- 
posal of the officers of engineers to carry into effect whatever 
projects might be approved for rendering the shore defences 
more secure. Increased exertions were, therefore, made in 
strengthening the permanent fortifications, enlarging the de- 
fences of Dover and Chatham, " constructing batteries at various 
points, building temporary barracks along the coast, and stud- 
ding our shores with martello towers." " 

" What wag most extraordinary connected with these daring fellows, was 
the fact, that throughout the epidemic, they enjoyed the most robust health ; 
but, after its cessation, fearing that they were loaded with infection, and that 
a sudden transition to the garrison again would cause the fever to return, the 
authorities deemed it prudent to send the hearse-driver and gravediggcrs to 
camp at Bcuna Vista, where, after about two months' quarantine, they were 
permitted to rejoin their companies. 

'• ' United Service Journal,' i., 1845, p. 483. 




Besides using all vigilance and exertion at the different ports 
where the royal military artificers were stationed, in furtherance 
of the general business of preparation and defence, detachments 
of the corps were constantly on the route from one place to 
another, erecting temporary or permanent works. In April, at 
the suggestion of Major-General Twiss, then commanding royal 
engineer in the Southern District, the party at Dover was much 
increased to assist in forming casemates in certain positions of 
the works on the western heights, by which to remedy the 
defects in the original construction. 

At Jersey, in the same month, every precaution was taken to 
render the island capable of resisting any encroachment from 
its turbulent neighbours ; and all the batteries and forts, as far 
as practicable, were manned with ordnance. In the execution 
of this service corporal and master-carpenter Daniel Brown, 
described as " a worthy man and a useful artificer," was killed 
by a fall from the top of Platte Roc(i Tower. 

In September a small party was detached to Chelmsford, and 
superintended, under the direction of Captain G. Whitmore, 
royal engineers, the construction of a chain of temporary field- 
works, consisting of intrenchnients, batteries, and redoubts, from 
Woodford Windmill to the windmill at Gallywood Common, a 
distance, by the line of works, of about two miles and a half. 
Various regiments of militia provided their contingents to 
execute these works, in which they were assisted by detach- 
ments from the royal waggon train and royal staflF corps. 

About the same time another party was despatched to East- 
bourne to aid in building the circular redoubt there, as also in 
erecting several martello towers on the coast, at points best 
suited to protect our shores. Fluctuating in strength according 
to the general emergencies of the service, this detachment con- 
tinued to work in the Eastbourne district until the summer of 
1817, when, after assisting in the erection of all the towers as 
far as Rye Ba ')n the one side of Eastbourne, and Seaforth on 
the other, it quitted the district and the men composing it 
rejoined their companies. 

At Woolwich, during the later months of the year, parties 




were specially engaged in preparing and fitting uut bomb 
tenders for the (Jliannel fleet, by casing their magazines, 
making racks for shot, and executing such other precautionary 
services as would insure them from explosion and destruction 
in action. 

Nor should the efforts made to carry on the recruiting with 
success be overlooked, since the steps taken were chiefly induced 
by the spirit of the times, and the anticipated wants of the 
coming war. In the previous year, after the treaty of Amiens 
was signed, the recruiting was suspended ; but in June, 1803, 
it was resumed with an energy that promised to yield an 
abundant result. In addition to the old stations, several new 
ones were opened for obtaining candidates, and the bounty for 
recruits was increased to 14i. 38. (id. each ! whilst the reward 
to the soldier, to stimulate him to exertion and vigilance, was 
augmented to Al. lis. Gd. ! The former levy money was ten 
guineas, but the improved premium amounted to nineteen 

Notwithstanding the great demand for men, every care was 
taken to receive none in the corps who were not in every 
particular fully equal to its various duties ; and the oflSccrs 
employed on the service were specially enjoined to engage 
such candidates only as were "stout made, able-bodied, well- 
limbed, healthy, and active, of good character, and good abili- 
ties as tradesmen ; not over 30 years of ago, nor under 5 feet 
6 inches in height." Under these restrictions, and as the call 
for mechanics in civil life was loud and pressing, only 53 
artificers were received and approved of this year, leaving at 
its close 351 men to complete the corps to its establishment 
of 1,075. 

No better success attended the recruiting in the year 1805. 
Full employment was offered by tb ! country to every artisan 
disposed to handle his tools, and the sources of enlistrient, 
therefore, were almost choked up. In this extremity, as the 
corps was very much below its establishment, application was 
made to the different regiments of militia for candidates ; and 
the effect was, that 134 volunteers — all tradesmen and miners 




— ^joined the artificers, !ii April and May, from forty-six regi- 
inenta. After a short interval, a similar ap])lication was made 
to the Horse Guards to allow artisans from the line to enter 
the corps. His Hoyal Highness the Duke of York, acqui- 
escing in the proposal, conveyed his connuands on the 8th 
.luly to every battalion in the service, both at home and abroad, 
to have volunteers, to the number of two caqKJnters and three 
bricklayers from each, transferred to the military artificers. By 
tliis arrangement the corps, which was 112 men in arrear of its 
establislnuent when the order was promulgated, was rendered 
complete by the end of the year. To each volunteer received 
was paid a bounty of ten guineas. The totiil number of recruits 
and men transferred from the line and militia during the year 
amounted to 435. 

Filling up the corps in this manner was highly prejudicial to 
its best interests and general efficiency, so far as the transfers 
from the regiments of the line were concerned. Officere of 
those regiments were naturally averse to parting with their 
good men, and out of a batch of volunteers the five least 
reputable in every battalion, unless under extraordinary cir- 
cumstances, were selected ♦o be transferred. To prevent the 
reception of objectionable men, every precaution was taken by 
the officers of engineere appointed to this duty ; but, with all 
their circumsijection, some of the most abandoned characters 
were j)assed into the corps. AV'ith the dift'erent militias, how- 
ever, this was not the ease. All the volunteers were unre- 
servedly suiTcndered to the recruiting-officer, who was at liberty 
to pick from the number those whom he desired, and subject 
them to whatever examination he pleased before acceirting them. 
In this way some of the ablest mechanics and many of the best- 
conducted men and finest-looking soldiers joined the corps, and 
their behaviour and usefulness in after service furnished the 
best test of the advantages derived by receiving volunteers from 
the militia.'' 

'" This observation would appear to clash with the remarks of Sir Charles 
Pasley (note F, p. xvii. ' Elementary Fortification ') upon the impropriety of 
enlisting militia-men ; but after carefully tracing the history of many volim- 
teers from that -irm, the fact cannot be concealed that the transfers alluded to 
were decidedly beneficial to the corps. The best sapper, miner, and pontoneer, 




England had not yet tnkoii any active measures agaiiixt 
France, busied as sbe was in endeavours to protect her own 
shores ; but as soon as the Powers of Europe had formed them- 
selves into a coalition, under treaty sipfiicd at St. Petersburgh 
on the llth April, to check the projjress of Buonaparte, the 
British Government lost no time in fjiving effect to the engage- 
ment. Accordingly in that month, a body of troops under Sir 
James Craig embarked for the Neaj)olitan States to join witli 
the Russians in expelling the French. To this ex])cdition was 
attached a party of one sergeant, one corporal, and thirteen 
artificers of the Woolwich company, under the connnand of 
(Captain C Lefebure, royal engineers, which landed at Naples 
in November. Here the expedition remained inactive until the 
19th January, 180G, when, from the defection of the Russians, 
it was deemed prudent to withdraw the troops and proceed 
to Messina, where the military artificers landed on the 18th 
February, 180G. 

la October, another force was sent to Hanover, under Lord 
Cathcart, which, after it should achieve the liberation of that 
State, was destined to advance into Holland for the same j)ur- 
])ose. One sergeant, one cori)oral, and fourteen privates of the 
Chatham company, luider Captain J. F. Bircii of the engineers, 
accompanied the expedition and landed in Swedish Pomerania 
the same montli ; but, by the time the force was prepared to enter 
into the contest, affairs were on the change ; and Bu./uaparte 
having gained the brilliant victory of Austerlitz, the treaties of 
Presburg and Vienna followed, putting an end to the war, and 
leaving England alone an enemy to France. Unable, without 
ascjistance, to re-estiiblish the independence of Hanover and 
Holland, Lord Cathcart's army returned to England early in 
180(), and the detachment of artificers rejoined the Chatham 
company in Febmary of that year. 

that ever served in the corps— perhaps the hest in Europe— was a milltia-uian ; 
nn<\ the name of Jenkin .lones, the faithful and zealous sergeant-major under 
rfir Charles Pasley at Cliathain, now quartermaster at Woolwich, need only 
be mentioned, to verify the assertion and to corroborate the encomium. Quar- 
termaster Hilton, the efficient sergeant-major to the corps in France under Sir 
James (^armichacl Smvth. had also been in the militia. 





Pint detachment to the Cape ofOoml Hope - Misfortunes at Hiienos AyrM — 
Reinforcement to Oibrultur Services at Culiil)ria — Formation of Maltese 
military artiticers— Inerense of pay to royal military urtitieers— Augment- 
ation to tile corps and reorganization of the companies — Kstablishment and 
annual expense — Working pay — Sub- Lieutenants introduced — Indiscipline 
and character of the corps. 

In August of the previous yciir, an cxpctl.tion under Sir David 
Baird sailed against the Cape of Good Hope, to whieh were 
attached one sergeant, two corporals, and seventeen artificers 
of the Plymouth company under Captain J. C Smith of the 
royal engineers, who eniharked on board the ' Melantlio ' 
transport. The artiticers landed on the 4th January, 180G, 
with the artillery, and marched and encamped with them in the 
field ; but Sir David Baird, conceiving that their services 
would be more beneficial in the castle after its capture, tiian 
in action, would not j)ennit them to take part in the operations. 
They therefore halted about a (juarter of a mile to the right 
rear of the position, and there remained imtil they marched 
with the troops into the castle. Ever since this capture, 
a dcbichment of the corps of varying strength has been 
employed in the colony, not only at Cape Town, but at many 
posts and forts at a considerable distance inland and upon the 

Two privates of the Cape detachment under Captain Kennett, 

of the corps, sailed in April with the force under General 

Beresford against Buenos Ay res. Landing at Point de Quil- 

mes on the 25th Jime,' they were present at the surrender of 

' ' Loudon Gazette Extraordinary,' September 13, 18ti6. 




the city on the 27th following. After a time the Si)iuiiards, 
recovering from the panic which lost them their caj)ital, retook 
it with signal success, and those of the British not killed, .vere 
taken jjrisoners. Oajitain Kennett was among the former, and 
one of the artificers was wounded. On the loss of their 
captain, the two men were attached to the artillery and 
served in the action of the 12th August, 180(5, under Captain 
Alexander Macdonald, royal artillery : they subse(iuently were 
taken jirisoners and remained so until January 1808, when 
they returned to England with the forces under General W'hite- 

To supply the casualties at Gibraltar occasioned hy the fatal 
fever of 1804, a detachment of 133 artificers,^ under Captjiin 
II. Evatt, royal engineers, embarked on the 31st Deceml)er, 
1805, and landed at the fortress in February following. The 
strength of the companies was thus increased from 174: to 307 
of all raJiks. 

Sir John Stuart, who commanded the army in Sicily, now 
undertook, at the solicitation of the ('ourt of Palermo, an ex- 
pedition against the French in Calabria The detachment of 
artificers at Messina, reduced to twelve in number, furnished 
ten men, under Captain C. Lefebure, royal engineers, to 
accompany the troops. They were present on the 4th July 
at the battle of Maida ; and afterwards at the siege of Scylla 
Castle from the 12th to the 23rd of the same month. Shortly 
after the capture, six of the party returned to their old 
quarters at Messina, leaving two non-commissioned officers 
and two artificers under Lieutenant George Macleod of the 
engineers, to superintend the restoration of the ctistle defences. 
In October the four men rejoined the detachment at Messina, 
where the whole continued to be employed in various engineer- 
ing services for several years. 

Artificers under military control and discipline being nmch 
recjuired for the works at Malta, Lieutenant-Colonel K T. 
Dickens, 11. E., recommended the formation of three companies 

' With fifty women ami forty children! More than, in thene days, are per- 
mitted to aceumpaiiy a h.ilUiliun on foreign service. 




of Maltese tradesmen for the service of the engineer depart- 
ment ; two to be stationed at Malta and Gozo, and one for 
employment in general duties in the Mediterranean, Gibraltar, 
and Egypt. English companies of artificers would have been 
proposed for the works of the stations named, had the efficiency 
and conduct of detachments previously sent from Gibraltar to 
Minorca, Sicily, and other parts of the Mediterranean, war- 
ranted it ; " but," says Sir Charles Pasley, " as the Gibraltar 
companies were, from circumstances, the worst in the corps, the 
detachments formed from them ♦ * • * were found so very 
inefficient, that Maltese and Sicilians were preferred to Britons 
in the Mediterranean, for the important service of the royal 
engineer department." ^ As well from this, as iiom other 
local * and economical considerations, the Government approved 
of the measure, and the royal authority for its accomplishment 
being obtained, the companies were formed on the 1st May. 
The Mediterranean or war company consisted of — 

4 sergeants, 
4 corporals, 
100 privates, 

1 diummer, 
10 boys. 

Total . .119 

and the companies for Ma'ta and Gozo, numbered each — 

2 sergeants, 
4 corporals, 

60 privates, 
1 drummer, 
10 boys. 

Total . .77 

An adjutJint from the royal engineers was appointed to the 
1st conipaiiy, and one, a foreigner — Matteo Bonavio'' — to the 
other two companies at Malta and Gozo, to which was also 

•> Pasley's ' Elementary Fortification,' note a, p. iv. 

* In tlie treaty of Amicus it was stipiilnteU that uHC-half the soldiers in the 
garrison at Malta should be natives ; and although the treaty had been violated 
by Napoleon, Great Britain still regarded its provisions, in this respect at least, 
as sacred and obligatory. 

' Styled, by local usage, " Assistant Knginvcr." 

156 . HISTORY OF THE [180tj. 

added one sergeant-major and quartermaster-sergeant Guiscppe 
Sinerco, stationed at Malta. The totjil number of these 
companies with the staff amounted to 276. The pay of the 
war company was assimihited to that of the royal milit<iry 
artificers, while that of the other companies was fixed as 
under : — 

s. <l. 

Sergeant-major or quartermaster-sergeant . 3 a-day. 

Sergeant 1 6 „ 

Corporal 1 3 „ 

Private, or drummer 1 1 „ 

])oy 6 „ 

The adjutants received 3s. per day each extra," and the 
working pay of the non-commissioned otficers and men was 
divided into two classes of Qd. and t)tZ., which they received 
in addition to their regimental pay. The non-comniissioned 
ofllicers, who were foremen, received as working pay Is. a-day 

These c npanies were formed into a corps with the title of 
Maltese military artificers, and, like the old artificer company 
at Gibraltar, remained a distinct and separate body. They 
were officered by the royal (Miginccrs. Their clothing consisted 
of a close blue cloth jacket with black collar and cufts, and 
Ordnance buttons ; open blue cloth pantaloons and a military 
hat and feather. The sergeants were distinguished by sashes, 
the corporals by chevrons, and the sergeant-major by a uniform 
like the sergeant-major of the English comj)iuiies.' 

This year Mr. Windham, the Secretary-at-War, warmly 
espoused the cause of the army, and ultimately obtained for it 
the redress he so earnestly sought This was promulgated in 
the well-known Warrant called " Windham's Act," which in- 

" Of the regimental allowances of ttie foreign adjutant nothing is known, 
nor can any record be discovered of the uniform worn by liim. 

' In 1808 the companies vere clothed in a uniform made of cotton, manu- 
factured in the island, similar to the local corps. The facings were of black 
cloth. The sergeants and corporals were distinguished as before, and the ser- 
geant-major still wore the home uniform. The substitution of cotton for cloth 
was ordered on account of its being cheaper and better adapted to the climate, 
iK'sides forwarding the views of Government, in aiding the sale of the staple 
commodity of the island, deprived by the war of its usual veifs. 




s. d. 

,) 114 

2 Ci 



2 4i 
2 34 
2 24 


1 44 
1 34 
1 24 

creased the pay of the soldier wliile serving, and provided a 
liberal pension for him on retirement, corresponding to his in- 
firmities and services. On the 1st September, the Act alluded 
to was extended to the royal military artificers, and the advan- 
tages conferred upon th j corps were as under : — 

Total nmniinl of 
IncreaBC. pay ii-day. 

Sergeant-major on the staff . . 

Sergeant 3f 

Corporals ; — 

After 14 years .... 

Hetween 7 and 14 years 

Under 7 years .... 
Privates and Buglers : — 

After 14 years .... 

Between 7 and 14 years . 

Under 7 years .... 

In the prospect of a long war, to provide reinforcements for 
the execution of the extensive works in progress at Dover and 
Nova Scotia, and to be capable, to a certain extent, of meeting 
the contingencies that might arise, a royal warrant was issued 
dated 5th September, sanctioning a reorganization of the corps 
for general service, an augmentation of two companies, and a 
small increase to each of the other ten companies. 

Under this arrangement the corps was distributed as follows, 
and the companies for the first time, appear to be distinguished 
by numbers ; which, however, from the long habit of designating 
them by stations, soon became obsolete : — 

Ist. Woolwich . . Captain G. Hayter. 
2nd. Chatham . . Major R. D'Arcy. 
3rd. Dover . . . Captain W. 11. Ford. 
4th. Portsmouth . . Captain R. Fletcher. 
6th. Gosport . • . Captain T. Fyers. 
fith. Plymouth . . Lient.-Colonel T. Skinner. 
7th. Spike Island . Lieut.-Coloncl Sir C. HoUoway. 
„,, I Jersey . . . Captain .1. Humfrey. 
'iGuernsey . . Major J. Mackelcan. 
9th. Gibraltar . . Captain H. Evatt. 
10th. Gibraltar , . Captain G. Landmann. 
nth. West Indies . Lieut.-Colonel W. .Johnston. 
'I2th. Nova Scotia . Captain W. Hennett. 

" Sir .lohii Jones states, evidently by mistake, that the corps was composed 
of thiit>/-lmi companies.— Journals of Sieges, ii., note 38, p. 389, 2nd edit. 




By the authority of the warrant alluded to, the establishment 
of each company was remodelled, the ranks of Sub-Lieutenant 
and second corporal were created, and the total of all ranks 
jer company increased from 100 to 126. Under the previous 
sys.V>m of detachinpf men, the com])anies were mutilated, dis- 
ordered and reduced ; but under this enlarged organization, 
it was considered they would be more accessible, and better 
able ;o afford such accidental assistance as might be needed, 
without diminishing the companies to an inconvenient strength, 
or without particular detriment to the station. The subjoined 
detail shows the approved composition of a company at this 

1 Sub-Lieutcnant,° a new rank, with pay of 5a. a-<lay.'° 

1 Sergeant-major. 
5 Sergeants. 

5 Corporals. 

10 Second Corporals," a new rank, pay fixed at Is. «'/. a-»lay. 
30 Carpenters, including 4 top sawycis. 
20 Nl&sons I 

18 Brickla'yets, j>n<^l"ding slaters, tiles, and plasterers. 

10 Smiths, 
U) Miners, 

4 Wheelers, 

4 Collar Makers, 

2 Coopers, 
2 Painters, 

4 Drummers. 

Total. 126 

The total establishment of the corps, including the adjutant 
and sergeant-major on the staff, amounted to 1,514, exhibit- 
ing an increase above the foraier establishment of 439 men ; 

' Styled Second Lieutenants in the warrant by mistake. The Sub-Lieuten- 
ants were junior to the Second Lieutenants of engineers, but held rank with 
Second Lieutenants of the line, according to dates of commission. This right 
was often questioned, but never, as long as the Sub- Lieutenants were attached 
to the corps, officially settled. In IS.'iS the position of a Sub-Lieutenant 
f H. B. Mackenzie), who had joined tb'; line as paymaster being disputed, it 
was then settled that Sith-Licutcnants -were junior to Jutisiytin, 

'" Subsequently increased to 5s. 7rf. a-day, and after seven years' service to 
6s. 7(/. a-day. 

'> Holding comparative station with corporals of the line, according to date 
of promotion. 




and its expense for one year, exclusive of the workinj» pay 
and other miscellaneous allowances, reached the sum of 
45,500/, 17«. Tit?. "With the three companies of Maltese 
artificers, the coqw mustered a force of 1,790 officers, non- 
commissioned officei-s, and men. 

As a means of encouraging the men to exertion and good 
behaviour, their working pay was permitted to be increased, 
under the authority of the warrant before mentioned, from 
6(Z. to 9d. or Is. a-day. The non-commissioned officers inva- 
riably received the highest rate. None, however, could be 
advanced from the lowest to the superior rates without firet 
being recommended to the commanding royal engineer at the 
station, by the junior officers, foremen, or overseers ; and this 
system of rewards, except for special services, has been observed 
in the corps ever since. 

The sergeant-majors who received the first commissions had 
been in the artillery, and were distinguished for their good 
services and bravery. To their zeal and expertness as soldiers, 
they added an intimate knowledge of drill and discipline — re- 
quisites of essential importance in the organization of a new 
force, but which, from the vague and indefinite character of the 
corps, became, almost necessarily, too temporizing and elastic 
to be sufficiently beneficial or respected. 

Efforts had on one or two particular occasions been made 
to avoid the faults and supply the omissions of earlier years ; 
but the improvement before alluded to, had not reached the 
expectations of those who felt an interest in the corps. One 
obvious reason was, the nominal appointment of officers to com- 
panies, who were so incessantly shifted, that it was not uncom- 
mon to find a company passing under the command of three or 
four different officers in the course of twelve months ; '* and 
another was, tiic reluctance with which some commanding 

" This may be regarded as a favourable view of the case. Sir John Jones 
states, " Kuch company was cnmnianded for the moment by the senior Captain 
of engineers, who might happen to be placed on duty wherever the company 
might be; so that it was not unfrequent for a company to be commanded by 
five or six captains in as many months." — Journal of Sieges, ii. note 38, p. .'3811, 
2iid mlit. 




officers permitted the temporary withdrawal of the men from 
the works for the purposes of drill and discipline." The free 
use of the means to train the men to subordination and the 
use of arms, to restrain them from irregularities, and fully to 
develop the organization and purposes for which the corps wa.s 
raised, being thus interrupted, naturally tended to vitiate and 
lower its military pride, spirit, and appearance. 

Raid and grey-headed non-commissioned officers with ages 
varying from forty-five to sixty-five, good artificers and fore- 
men, but lacking the energy and demeanour of soldiers, were 
no rarities in the royal military artificers. Disinclined to learn, 
they but very imperfectly understood their military station, 
and seldom exercised their authority, except in the emollient 
guise of persuasion and advice. On all sides there was a 
yielding, that in some measure obliterated the lines of dis- 
tinction between the diflPerent grades. Their interests seemed 
to be reciprocal and interwoven, and the best workman was 
generally esteemed the best man. Almost every military 
idea was sacrificed for " the works," in which it would be 
hazardous to say, that they did not labour with ability and 

To check the growth of these unmilitary principles and 
practices, to enforce respect for position and authority, and to 
assist in maintaining in the corps the exercise of proper dis- 
cipline and drill, the Sul)-Lieutenants were established. Their 
duties were like those of adjutants, whom they superseded, and 
were, therefore, held responsible to their Captains for the 
conduct, efficiency, internal management, and payment of their 
respective companies. This, however, was but a transient 
expedient. An instalment only of the good that was expected 
was realised ; " and it was left for a later period to enlarge and 
perfect what in this year, though spiritedly commenced, fell 
considerably short of success. 

" Paslcy's ' Elementary Fortification,' note A, p. iii. 
" Ibid., note f, p. xvii. 





Appointments of Adjutant and Quartermaster — Captain John T. Jones — Dis- 
asters at Buenos Ayres — Egypt — Reinforcement to Messina — Detachment of 
Maltese military artificers to Sicily — Newfoundland — Copenhagen — Cap- 
tures in the Caribbean Sea — Madeira — Danish Islands in the West Indies — 

It having been determined to consolidate the appointments of 
Adjutant and Quartermaster to the royal military artificers, 
Major John Rowley ' and Colonel George W. Phipps* resigned 
their offices. 

To succeed to the vacancies thus created, Captain John 
Thomas Jones, an officer of undoubted ability and military 
experience, was brought from Sicily, and on the 1st January 
commissioned to hold both appointments.^ Upon him, there- 
fore, devolved the difficult task of arranging and directing the 
details of the new organization both at home and abroad, and 
of carrying into effect a general system of drill and discipline.^ 

' In the earlier years of his appointment he was much at Woolwich, and 
personally superintended the affairs of the corps ; bat for some years prior to 
the uew organization, his duties in London seldom permitted him to visit the 

• Colonel Phipps wap never present with the corps. As Quartermaster, he 
performed his duties in London. In consideration of his relinquishing the 
Qiiartermastership, and also for his good services, he was granted by His 
Majesty an allowance of 10s. a-day.— ' Accounts of Ordnance, House of 
Commons,' 1816, p. 31. 

" ' Loudon Gazette,' 20th to 24th January, 1807. 

* ' United Service Journal,' ii., 1843, p. 110. 'Jones's Sieges,' ii., note 38, 
p. 389, 2nd edit. 

VOL. I. M 




In this duty he continued until July, 1808, when, ordered on 
a particular service to the Asturias, he resigned the staff rank. 
From the time of the appointment of Captain .1. T. .Tones, the 
Adjutant was permanently stationed at the head -quarters at 
Woolwich, and his ofBce also wiis established there. 

Early in the year an expedition was sent against Chili under 
Major-Gcneral CVawford, accompanied by a sergeant and ten 
artificers under Captain J. Squire, R.E. Instead of proceeding 
to (!hili, counter orders were received, and Captain Stjuire and 
his eleven men sailed with the force to Buenos Ayres. Arriving 
at Monte ; Video on the 14th June, they were accordingly 
landed and took part in the disastrous attack on Buenos Ayres, 
in which all the artificers were taken prisoners, and so remained 
until January, 1808, when they quitted with the force under 
General Whitelocke. 

On the 6th March, Msijor-General Frazer, at the head of a 
small armament, sailed from Messina to dispossess the Turks 
of Egypt. To this force were attached, under Captain J. F. 
Burgoyne, royal engineers, four of the military artificers fur- 
nished from the detachment in Sicily, who embarked on the 
19th February. Having in due time landed at Alexandria, 
they served at the capture of that city, also in the attack of 
llosetta, and in the retreat to Alexandria. In September 
following these four artificers rejoined the party at Messina. 

In the meantime the detachment at Messina was reinforced 
by a sergeant, one corjjoral, and eighteen privates of the Gib- 
raltar companies, under Lieutenant George J. Harding, R.E., 
who embarked at the Rock on the 14th April. AVith the 
exception of the non-commissioned officers, this party was com- 
posed of irreclaimable drunkards, worthless alike as artificers 
or soldiers. 

From the inefficiency of these men, the Maltese war company 
was ordered to furnish its contingent for service in Sicily, and 
accordingly a detachment of one sergeant — Evan Roberts — one 
corporal, and twenty-nine artificers, embarked at Malta on 
board the 'Charlotte' transport on the 23rd, and landed at 




Messina on the 30th July. In the autumn following, the whole 
of tlie party with two men of the royal military artificers as 
foremen, were detached to Augusta and Syracuse, to be cm- 
ployed on the works under sergeant Roberts. 

Newfoundland now became a station for the corps. A 
detachment of eighteen non-commissioned officers and men, all 
masons and miners, embarked at Plymouth in May, on board 
His Majesty's ship ' Isis,' under Captain George Ross of the 
royal engineers, and arrived there in July. Before the end of 
August, the detachment was further strengthened by six arti- 
ficers from^alifax, Nova^Scotia Until proper accommodation 
could bV provided, they lived in huts like the Esquimaux or 
emigrant fishermen, or under canvas in a dreaiy uncleared 
valley between Signal Hill and the sea. In some measure to 
relieve the monotony and mitigate the rigours of an inhospitable 
country and climate, permission was granted to the men to 
spread their nets in the waters near St. John, and to catch as 
much fish as was needfiil for the sustenance of themselves and 
families. Provisionally, also, the married portion of the detach- 
ment were allowed small allotments of land, which they cleared 
and cultivated at intervals, when they were not employed on 
the works. From these sources of occupation they were kept in 
constant industry and amusement, and their health effectually 
preserved and invigorated. 

Two sergeants, two corporals, six second corporals, and forty- 
one artificers, with Captain Fletcher, R.E., embarked at Wool- 
wich for Copenhagen on the 29th July, and landed there the 
16th August. In the bombardment of that capital they served 
under the immediate direction of Lieutenant-Colonel R, D'Arcy, 
R.E. ; and, in returning to England, served as Marines under 
Lieutenant Bassett of the royal navy. The party rejoined 
their companies on the 7th November. 

One second corporal and three privates of the West India 
company were embarked in August, on board His Majesty's 
ship ' Blonde,' V. V. Ballard, Captain, to act as artificers and 
seamen during a short cruise in the Caribbean sea ; and while 

M 2 




forming part of the crew of this ship, they served at the guns 
in the cajjture of the undernamed French privateers : — 



1 5th August • . 

. 'La Dame Villaret' 

. 5 


IGth „ . . 

. ' L'Hortcnie ' . 

. 8 


14th September . 

. 'L'Hirondelle'. . 

. 8 



. * Duquesne ' • . 

. 17 


14th October . . 

. 'Alerte'. . . . 

. iO 


An expedition was sent to Madeira in October under General 
Beresford, to which was added a detachment from the Spike 
Island company of one corporal, one second corporal, and ten 
privates, under Captain A. Morshead, royal engineers. They 
landed in December, and were stationed at Funchal until May, 
1812, when they were withdrawn and despatched to their com- 
panies in Portugal. 

In December, General Bowyer ordered a party of the West 
India company to be attached to his expedition about to sail 
against the Danish islands of St. John, St. Thomas, and St. 
Croix. Three sergeants, four corporals, and forty-two privates 
were accordingly selected, and embarked for that service on 
the 16th December ; but the islands having surrendered with- 
out resistance, the detachment rejoined at Barbadoes on the 
13th January, 1808. A sergeant was left at St. Croix to super- 
intend repairs to barracks, &c. Six mechanics belonging to 
the Danish service, taken prisoners at St Thomas and St. Croix, 
enlisted into the company. 

Throughout the year a small party of the Dover company 
was employed on the works at Hythe, under sergeant Adam 
Cowan, and continued so occupied for several years. 





War in the Peniasula — Expedition thither — Detachment* to the seat of war, 
with Captains Landmaun, Elphiustone, Squire, Burgoyue, and Smyth — ■ 
Captain John T. Jones— neiuforcement to Newfoundland — Discipline at 
Halifax — Services at Messina— Parties temporarily detached to different 
places — The queue. 

NAroLKON had now fairly reared his eagles in Spain and Por- 
tugal, and compelled the reigning monarchs of those countries 
to renounce their thrones. To his brother Joseph he gave the 
sovereignty of the former kingdom, retaining for himself the 
sceptre of the latter. England, more indignant than alarmed 
at these spoliations, but eager to dispossess the invader of his 
acquisitions, at once willingly responded to the desire of Por- 
tugal to restore the dynasty of Braganza to the throne, and 
also tendered her assistance, uninvited, to Spain, to carry on the 

No sooner had the ministry determined upon sending suc- 
cours to the Peninsula to effect the overthrow of Napoleon, than 
different expeditions were fitted out and sent to the seat of war. 
Small parties of the military artificers, selected from the various 
companies of the corps, were at the same time forwarded with 
these forces. 

On the 13th May, two miners, under C^iptain G. Landmann, 
royal engineers, were sent from Gibraltar to Cadiz with the 
division under General Brent Spencer, and were afterwards 
removed to the scene of active operations in Portugal. 

On the 18th June, one sevgeant, one second corporal, and 
eleven privates, armed with small swords only, embarked at 
Woolwich under Captain Elphinstone, R.E., and joined the 
force under Sir Arthur Wellesley. Both these parties were 




present at the battle of Rolicja on the 17th August, and Viniiera 
on the 2l!<t of tliat month. 

A (U'taohmont of one sergeant, one second corporal, and 
twelve jirivates, under (^^aptnins J. Squire and J. F. Burgoyne, 
royal euguieers, was forwarded on the 2'Jth April witii Sir John 
Moore's anny to Gottenburg to assist the Swedes against the 
Russians. The arms and appointments of the corjjs were taken 
fi'oni them, and they were supplied for defence with a short 
hanger sword. Several of the party had already been on service 
at Buenos Ayres under (.'aptain Squire, and were again solicited 
by that officer for tliis expedition. The rest were men specially 
selected for the duty, both on account of their abilities and con- 
duct as artificers and soldiers. After the fcrce was recalled 
from its inactivity in Sweden, the detachment of artificers 
accompanied it to Portugal. 

About this period three artificei's ])roceeded to the Peninsula 
with Sir David Baird's division, and one man was attached to 
ihe force under Sir Harry Burrard. 

In September, one corporal, one second corporal, and four- 
teen privates embarked for Spain on board the ' Sisters ' trans- 
port under the command of Captain J. Carmichael Smyth, R.E., 
and joined the army under Sir John Moore in November. 

Tiie total artificer force in the Peninsula, comprising six 
diflferent j)arties, was forty-nine of all ranks. This number 
does not include Captain J. T. Jones, the adjutant, who quitted 
Woolwich in July for special service in the northern provinces 
of Spain under the orders of Major-General Leith.' 

To reinforce the party in Newfoundland, a detachment of one 
sergeant, one corporal, one second corj)oral, and forty-six pri- 
vates embarked at Portsmouth in June, and landed at St. John's 
from the 'Vestal' fi-igate on the Ibth July. Early in the 
following year the detachment was increased to the estiiblish- 
ment of a company. 

Lieutenant Oldfield of the royal engineers — a painstaking 

' In the absence, on foreign duty, of Captain J. T. Jones, from July, 1808, 
to January, 1809, Sub-Lieutenant John Ka\es performed the duties of adju- 
tant to tlie corps with credit and ettieiency. 




officer — was removed to Halifax about this time and appointed 
adjutant to the company stationed tliere. Ilavinj,' previously 
hold a similar commission at Portsmouth — the model station for 
discipline — he commenced his duties with a favourable prostiffc. 
The materials he had to work upon were old in years, mis- 
9ha])en fr(m> habit and labour, and somewhat addicted to the 
prevailinjf" vice of intemjjerance ; but even these worn-out men 
he moulded by his once a-wcek drill into an appearance which 
enabled them to march past creditably with the Line on the 
Sunday garrison parades. Most of the company had been 
many years in the Province, and though not very tight and tidy 
soldiers, were nevertheless valuable as workmen and specially 
useful as foremen when military work! ig parties were employed. 

Both parties employed in restoring the fortresses at Syracuse 
and Augusta were recalled to Messina, and assisted to repair 
and improve the defences of that place. 

At the Cape of Good IIoj)e parties were detached at inter- 
vals during the year to Stellenbosch, Simon's Town, and Ilout's 
Bay ; and at Iljdifax to St. Andrews and Fort Clarence. At 
the latter fort, the non-commissioned officer detached was 
employed surveying. From Newfoundland a detaclnnent was 
sent to Cape Breton ; and from Gibraltar, also, second corporal 
Thomas Paul and four privates were detached to Percxil, a 
small islet opposite the Rock between Outa and Aj)es' Hill, 
where they dismantled all its batteries, magazines, and store- 
houses. Parties were also employed at Hurst Castle and the 
Isle of Wight. 

The time-honoured queue, which had long formed a con- 
spicuous appendage to the soldier's head-dress, wjis abolished 
in the corps in August ; and the closely-cropped hair of the 
present day, and snuill whisker extending to the lobe of the ear, 
were then adopted. 



' 1809. 


Retreat to Coruiia— Miserable state of the detachment on reaching England 
— Hardships of tl\e stragglers— Capture of Martinique — Skill of George 
Mitchell at the siege — Fever in the West Indies— Reduction of the Saintes — 
Detachment to Portugal — Battles of Oporto and Talavera — Casualties in 
the retreat, and distribution of t'us party — Naples — Zante and the Ionian 
Islands — Term of service of the Maltese military artificers — Siege of Flush- 
iiig — Services of the military artificers there —Gallantry, in the batteries, of 
John Millar, Thorn is Wild, and Thomas I^tts — Conduct of corps at the 
siege — Casualties by the Walohe.'en fever — Skilful conduct of Corporal 
T. Stevens in the demolitions at Flushing — Captain John T. Jones— Ser- 
vants — Incidental detachments. 

ExoEFriNG the two miners with General Spencer, the whole of 
the royal military artificers in Spain joined Sir John Moore's 
army. When the force was put in motion, the senior sergeant 
of *he detachment was left at Lisbon for special duty. The 
remainder accompanied the army in the retreat, and with the 
exception of two men taken prisoners and seven stragglers, were 
present at the battle of Coruna. 

Immediately after, the detachment embarked for England. 
The season being stormy there was no regularity in the arrivals. 
Some, therefore, landed a. Portsmouth and others at Plymouth 
between Janu <"v and March. They were destitute of every 
article essential to their comfort or equipment. Several were 
shoeless and clad in tatters and undistinguishable uniforms ; 
while the majority, haggard and attenuated, suffering from 
shipwreck, privivtion, and sickness, afforded indubitable evidence 
of the severe and arduous campaign, through which the neces- 
sities of war had recently carried them. 

Left to their own resources, the seven stragglers retraced 

1809. J 



their steps, between 300 and 400 miles, to Lisbon. In under- 
taking the journey, during a very inclement season, they 
encountered many dangers, endured frequent trials and hard- 
ships, and barely supported life upon the scanty ofFtrings which 
chance and a ransacked country afforded them. 

On the 28th January, three sergeants and seventy-one rank 
and file of the West India company, under the command of 
Brigad'jr-General Shipley, embarked at Barbadoes with Lieu- 
tenant-General Beckwi^h's expedition and landed at Martinique 
on the 30th. The company was further increased by a ser- 
geant, three corporals, and seventeen artificers under Lieutenant 
Robert Thomson, royal engineers, who embarked at Halifax, 
Nova-Scotia, with Lieutenant-General Sir George Prevost's 
division. Both parties, when noi engaged as overseers, were 
employed in the general labour cf the trenches and the park, 
and perfoiined the duties allotted to them, particularly in the 
destruction of Forts Bourbon and Ucsaix, with activity and 
zeal. Several non-commissioned officers and men were distin- 
guished by special commendation ; and the skill of corporal 
George Mitchell gained for him the reputation of being the 
best miner in the service. Private George Thomas was killed 
22nd February in the advanced battery before Fort Bourbon. 
After the surrender of Martinique it became the head-quarters 
of the comi)any. The Nova Scotia party returned with Sir 
George Prevost and landed at Halifax the 17th A])ril. During 
the operations the rains were heavy and incessant, and the men 
bei» , much exposed, fevers: and dysentery were rife among 
them. By the end of the year, twenty-one of the company had 
died and five were invalided. 

In April, two sergeants and seventeen rank and file were 
present at the reduction of the Saintes under the command of 
Lieutenant llobbs, R.E., and were employed during the service 
in the construction of the required batteries, magazines, &c. 
The party returned to Martinique the latter end ^! the month. 

A detachment of oni sergeant and eighteen rank and file 
embarked at Portsmouth, cm the 14tii March, under the com- 
mand of Lieutenant-Colonel Fletcher, for Portugal, and arrived 




at Lisbon on the 5th April. It was composed of men cliosen 
from the Portsmouth and Gosport companies, among whom were 
several who had served in the previous campaign. ^Vriting 
from Portsmouth, the Colonel says, " I find that all the men 
now here, who were with me before, are very anxious to go out 
again, but one cannot ask for everybody." On arriving at 
Lisbon the party was joined by a sergeant and the seven 
stragglers of the (^orufia party. It was 4ius increased to 
iwenty-eight total, and shortly afl^' a; t private from 
England was added to the number. 

On the 12th May was fought the battle of Oporto : twenty- 
five men of the artificers were present 'I'hcy afterwards re- 
paired the wooden bridge which, led into the to« n. Moving 
with the army they mustered at Coimbra on the 1st June, and 
at Castello Branco on the 1st July. At the battle of Talavera, 
on the 27th of that month, fifteen of the detachment were 
present. Private Aaron Delacourt was taken prisoner while 
endeavouring to convey to the rear (,'aptain Boothby of the 
royal engineers, who was wounded, and had his leg amputated. 
Of the artificers not present at the battle, two were at Lisbon, 
three on route to join the army, four at Abrantcs, sick ; and 
one on the Alberche. With the exception of two at Lisbon all 
joined at Talavera before tiie end of .July. 

A severe retreat succeeded the battle, in wbi"] 'mc 
suffered very much. At Merida they were m:::i! 
1st September. IJsbon was their head-quarters n. " .." 
at which time tlioy were rcatiy scattered. A sergeai 
was at Lisbon and the rest were distributed as follows: — one 
Abrantes, one Badajos, one Oeyras, four Soul, and six Torres 
Vedras. (3f the other artificers in PortUji... .ir were in tiie 
general hospital sick, and one a prisoner of war. The casual- 
ties since the opening of the campaign were six deaths, two 
missing, and two invalided to England. 

The company of Maltese military artificers al Messina was 
increased in April by seventeen rank and file fr ) ■ Malta. On 
the Ist June following, sergeant Roberts and i!ir -eight men 
of the company, were attaclied to the expedition Ic- •hk. hivaoion 

|), rty 

(1 the 





of Naples. Twelve of the royal military artificers also wei.t 
with the expedition, and served under the command of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel A. Bryce, royal engineers, in the reduction of 
the islands of Ischia and Procida. 

Returning to Messina in August, six of the royal and eight 
of the Maltese artificers were added to the' force under Briga- 
dier-General Oswald, and were present, on the 2nd October, 
at the surrender of Zante and other Ionian islands. These 
parties conliimed at Zante until after the taking of Santa 
Maur^ in the next year. 

A he Maltese artificers being enlisted for a terra of three years 
only, their engagements expired in the summer. Upwards of 
sixty men consequently claimed their discharge, and in July 
the third Maltese company was re-formed. 

In the mean time a force of one sub-lieutenant— George 
Robinson — two sergeant-majors — Joseph Forbes and John 
Smith — ten sergeants, and about 280 rank and file ' had been 
selected for an CApedition to Iljlland under the Earl of 
Chatham, to destroy the fleet and arsenals on th.e Scheldt. 
The youngest and most active men were chosen fp; the service, 
and were provided with swords and belts. The greater por- 
tion were also armed with muskets, under an impression that 
they would have to fight their way on shore. The detachment 
was divided into two operations to proceed against Flushing and 
Antwerj) ; the former under the command of Lieutenant-Colunel 
R. D'Arcy, R.E., tlie latter under Colonel Fyers, R.E. Both 
brigades embarked the I'Jth July, and having landed near Goes 
and Walcheren, a sma'.i force was employed in the operations 
in South Beveland under ('aptain Squire, R.E., and the re- 
mainder, with Sub-Lieutenant Robinson, were engaged in 
the bombardment of Flushing. The meditated attack on 
Antwerp was abandoned. Private Anthony Webster was 
kille'' at the seamen's battery on the 13th August, and two 
men were wounded. 

■ In .lones's 'Sieges,' vol. ii., p. 'ilJU, 2nd edit., the number, including the 
sub-lieutenant, is shown as 'J(il only ; at p. Iir>, the total of all ranks is stated 
to be li'ti ; but both strengths differ i'roin the actual force engaged. 




During the bombardment, fifty of the detachment were per- 
manently employed in making fascines and gabions, and about 
eighty carpenters prepared and put up the splinter-proof maga- 
zines and laid the platforms. The remainder were distributed 
to the batteries as sappei-s and miners or overseers. One of 
the batteries which was required in a hurry was worked solely 
by the royal military artificers, and completed in twenty-eight 
hours." Generally they attended to the more diflScult and 
dangerous portion of the batteries, and besides repairing the 
parapets and platforms, improved the embrasures when injured 
by the enemy's cannonade. 

In this service privates John Millar," Tl.omas Wild, and 
Thomas Letts acted very praiseworthily in situations of great 
danger, and showed examples of courage, zeal, and attention to 
duty much beyond the rest of the detachment. On occasions 
when particular p}.rts of the batteries were broken, these men 
fearlessly forced themselves into the embrasures to renew the 
work. The firing upon them was usually heavy. To effect 
their purpose with less interruption, they spr.-ad across the 
mouths of the embi .3ures, wet bulls' hides with the hairy sur- 
faces to the fortress ; and bearing as they did a resemblance to 
the newly disturbed earth, the enemy was deceived and with- 
drev/ their firing upon the work. The injured parts of the 
embrasures were thus restored with incredible dexterity. The 
two former were promoted to be second-corporals for their 
gallantry, and a similar rise was offered to Letts but he pre- 
ferred to remain a private. 

The conduct of the detachment at Walcheren is thus noticed 
by the Earl of Chatham :^ — "The active and persevering ex- 
ertions of the corps of royal engineers have been conducted 
with much skill and judgment by Colonel l''yers, aided by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel D'Arcy."* Elsewhere their exertions in the con- 
struction of the batteries are stated to have been indefatitjable,* 

' Jones's 'Sieges,' vol. ii., p. 279, 2nd edit. 

" Was left property to the amount of nm)l. and purchased his discharge in 
1810. *' London Gillette.' 

• Uurgrave's ' Account of Walcheren and South Hcveland,' p. Hi, edit. 1812. 








After the occupation of Flushing, the fever common to tlie 
country set in with peculiar virulence ; and the royal military 
artificers suffered very severely. Employed as they frequently 
were in conducting excavations in marshy and unhealthy situa- 
tions, nearly the whole of the detachment were seized with the 
malady and thirty-seven died. Sergeant-major Forbes was of 
the number. 

By repeated removals of the sick, the detachment was reduced 
to about eighty of all ranks, who were employed, previously to 
the evacuation of the island, in the demolition of the basin of 
Flushing and the naval defences of the place under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Pilkington, royal engineers. Second-corporal Thomas 
Stephens was intrusted with the practical conduct of the de- 
struction of one of the piers of the flood-gates. The task 
imposed on him was so ably executed, that when the explosion 
took place, the bottom of the pier was forced out and the 
superincumbent masonry fell without projecting a stone to any 
distance. Though only a second corporal he was appointed 
lance-sergeant on the spot for his skilful conduct. 

Captain John T. .Jones, the adjutant, was removed from the 
royal military artificers, on the 1st July by promotion, and 
wiis succeeded in the api)oIntmeiit by Captain Gilbert Buciianan, 
RE. In reorganizing tlie corps. Captain Jones had effected 
considerable improvements and raised in a high degree its 
morale and military efficiency. 

The practice of employing men of the corps as servants to 
oflUcers of royal engineers was discontinued in August. On 
active service the custom was found to be a great disadvantage. 
Stringent measures were therefore adopted to prevent its re- 
currence ; and to this day, the officers are required to aflSrm 
quarterly, that they do not employ any men of the corps in 
their private service. 

Detachments are traced during the year at the following 
new stations : — to Alderney, seven rank and file were removed 
from Guernsey by order of Lieutenant-Geiieral Sir John 
Doyle. Two armourers were employed in the royal manufac- 
tory for small arms at Lewishani, and continued cm this service 







for many years. The Eastbourne party was scattered along 
the Sussex coast, working chiefly at Hastings and Bulverhithe. 
The Newfoundland company gave a strong party for the King's 
works at the south side of the harbour, which remained there 
for many months. A non-commissioned officer of the Halifax 
company was employed on a tour of inspection to Cape Breton 
and Prince Edward's Island ; and the detachment at the Cape 
of Good Hope was distributed to Simon's Town, Hout's Bay, 
King's Blockhouse, and Muyzenberg. 





Capture of Guadaloupe— Of St. Martin's and St. Eustatins — Tcrres Vedras — 
Anecdote of Corpoi-al WiUiam Wilson at the Lines— Almeida and Busaco— 
Dctaclimeuts to Cadiz — Pnutales and La Isla — Destruction of Forts Barbara 
and St. Felipe, near Gibraltar — Santa Maura — Occasional detachments. 

On the 22nd January, Colonel William Johnston and Lieu- 
tenant Ilobbs, royal engineers, with three sergeants and forty- 
five rank and file of the West India company, embarked at 
Martinique under Lieutenant-General Beckwith. The detach- 
ment was appointed to the fifth or reserve brigade under the 
command of Brigadier-General Wale ; and having landed at 
St Mary's Capisterre, served at the taking of Guadaloupe. 

A small party under Captain Ilobbs, R.E., afterwards accom- 
panied the force under Brigadier-General Ilarcourt, and was 
present at the capture of the islands of St. Martin's and St. 

The celebrated Lines of Torres Vedras, commenced in 
October, 1809, were fully completed late in 1810. The 
number of the roytal military artificers employed in their con- 
struction never exceeded eighteen of all ranks, who were 
distributed in ones and twos throughout the ^hole extent of 
country to be intrenched.' Under the superintendence and 
control of their officers, they directed the labours of many 
hundreds of the peasantry. Some of the party were responsible 
for the efficient services of no less than 500 to 700 workmen. 
In this duty second -corporal William Wilson and private James 
Douglas rendered themselves conspicuous by their skill and 
activity. Both were promoted in consequence. 

(Jorjjoral Wilson was selected by (Colonel Fletcher, the com- 
manding engineer, to be his orderly, in which capacity he served 
until the deatli of his chief at St. Sebastian. At Tonvs Vedras 

' .Innes's Lines of Lisbon, 1820, p. 78. 




the corporal had charge of a work, and a party of the Portu- 
guese Ordcnanza Militia was placed under his orders to 
execute it. Two of the men were put to a task to be com- 
pleted within a certain time ; but regarding the work as impos- 
sible, they refused to comply and comi)lained to their officer, 
who took their part and was inclined to censure the corporal. 
However, with more manliness than soldier-like propriety, the 
corporal offered to bet the officer a dollar that he would accom- 
plish the tiisk himself within the time. The bet was accepted. 
Corporal Wilson stripped, easily won his dollar, and prevented 
the recurrence of similar complaints during the progress of the 

Four of the royal military artificers were attached to the 
army on the Coa, and were present at the action near Almeida 
in July, and the battle of Busaco in September. Retreating 
with the army to Torres Vedras, the four men rejoined the 
detachment, and the whole continued to do duty in the Lines 
until removed for more active service. 

On the 13th March, one corporal and eleven men of the 
Portsmouth and Gosport companies embarked with the force 
under Sir Thomas Graham for Cadiz. The non-commissioned 
officers were " careful trusty persons," and the men " stout, able, 
and good tradesmen." They landed fi-om the ' Concord * 
transport on the 24th March, and were commanded by Major 
C. Lcfebure, royal engineers, until he received his death wound, 
which took place in April as he was descending the walls of the 
fortress of Matagorda during its evacuation. Meanwhile a 
reinforcement from Portsmouth increased the party to two 
sergeants and forty-eight rank and file ; and in October it was 
again augmented, by artificers selected from the different com- 
panies, to three sergeants, nine corporals, five second-corporals, 
two drummers, and seventy-three privates, with Sub-Lieutenant 
R. Davie. The last draft landed at Cadiz from the ' Diadem ' 

In defending the fort of Puntales, which sustained a bom- 
bardment from across the water, a portion of the company was 
always employed. There private Benjamin Hall was killed, 





and several privates were injured by a wall, under which they 
were mining, falling on them. The remainder of the company 
were occupied in fortifying the position of La Isla for the de- 
fence of (^'adiz. Their particular duty consisted in making plat- 
forms, j)alisa(les, &c., and in acting as overseers to the military 
working parties of the line, assisted by artificers drawn from the 
regiments in garrison. The principal share of the work was 
done by task, which, being laid out beforehand, the royal 
military artificers showed the workmen their respective por- 
tions as soon as they arrived on the ground,^ and superintended 
its correct execution, both in quantity and dcUiil. At La Isla, 
the company was stationed at the park, and domiciled in one of 
the powder-magazines which had been made defensible. 

Under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Evatt and Captain 
G. J. Harding, royal engineers. Forts Barbara and St. I'elipe, 
on the Spanish lines in front of Gibraltar, were demolished by a 
strong detaciiment from the two companies stationed at tho 
fortress. The operations occupied a few months ; and during 
the work the detachment was covered by a force from the 
garrison of 500 to 800 soldiers. In firing a mine near St 
Felipe, private John Bfirber lost an ann, both eyes, and part of 
his chin and teeth. In springing another mine near Tarifa, 
private Thomas Hughes was killed. 

From Zante a party of five royal and eighteen Maltese 
military artificers siiiled with the force under Brigadier- 
General Oswald, and were present on the 16th April at the 
capture of Santa Maura. This service efll'cted, the detachment 
returned to Messina, leaving for the works of the newly-ciptured 
island a corporal and a mason of the royal military artifii^ers. 

During the year, parties or individuals of the corps were 
employed on particular service abroad — at Ceuta, Tariff., and 
at Sidney in Cape Breton ; while, at home, men were detached 
to Ilythe, Isle of Wight, and Northfleet. At the latter place 
the party was employed, from August to December, in sur- 
veying under Mr. Stanley of the royal military surveyors and 

' Prof. Papere," iii., p. 94. 

vol.. I. 






Mortality in the West Indies — Strength and distribution of detachments in the 
Peninsula — Recapture of Olivcnza — Field instruction prior to siege of Ua- 
dajoz — Conduct of corps at tlie siege — Conduct of Sergeant Rogers in recon- 
noitring — Reinforcement to Portugal and duties of the detachment — Its 
distribution and services — Battle of Rarrosa ; gallant conduct of Sergeant 
John Cameron — Tarragona — Defence of Tarifa— Augmentation to corps and 
reconstruction of companies — Annual expense of corps — Commnnd of the 
companies — Their stationary character — Tbe wealthy corporal — New distri- 
bution of corps — Commissions to SuI>-l.i> a;enauts, and ingenious inven- 
tions of Lieutenant Munro. 

The West India company being gradually reduced to about 
fifty men, it was strengthened in March to 110, by the arrival 
at Barbadoes, in the 'Flora' transport, of fifty- eight men. 
During the years 1810 and 1811 the number of deaths in the 
company from yellow fever was thirty. 

The detachment of the corps in Portugal was increased to 
seventy-eight of all ranks, by the landing at Lisbon of two 
sergeants and fifty-seven rank and file under Lieutenant P. 
Wright of the royal engineers. Thirty-four of the reinforce- 
ment were forthwith sent to the Lines of Torres Vcdras and 
the Almada position ; and the remaining twenty-five joined the 
head-quarters of the array, under Caj)tain George Ross and 
Lieutenant Stanway.' 

While these movements were being effected, two artificers of 
the detachment were present at the recapture of Olivenza in 
April, under the command of Captain Squire, K.E.- 

Soou after the reduction of Olivenza the siege party was 
augmented to twenty-seven, by the arrival at Elvas of twenty- 
five men under Captiiin George Ross. Of this increase not a 
man had ever seen the construction of a sap, battery, or trench. 

' Jones's ' Sieges' vol. i. p. 377, 2nd edit. ' Ibid. p. C. 




The wliolc were tliereforc daily drilled in the formation of field- 
works and in making fasciiicH and jraltions;' In these instruc- 
tional operations they soon acquired sufficient kn()wlcdn;e to 
render themselves useful to their officers ; and, at the same 
time, showed intellijfence and alacrity in aidinj^ in the con- 
struction of the flying-bridges across the Guadiana at Jura- 

These twenty-seven men were employed in the first siege 
of Badajoz. Eeduced by two, they were also ])resent at the 
second seigc of that fortress. On both occasions the dilijjence 
tind exertions of the detachment were prominent ; and, assisted 
by the line workmen, they quickly repaired the broken batteries 
and damaged embrasures. " Many a fine fellow," says a well- 
known author, " lost his life in endeavouring to vie with the 
men of the engineers." ■* 

In the second siege, on the night before the storming, sergeant 
William Rogers, and three intrepid lucn of the corps, accom- 
panied (^aj)tain Patton, 1{.E., on the dangerous service of 
reconnoitring the fords of the Kivillas, and the approach to the 
castle breach beyond the river. They conducted the examina- 
tion for a time and then returned to the works for a file of men 
as a guard. ^Vith this escort they retraced their steps ; but 
left it behind at a short distance from the breach, when the 
cajjtain and bis "trusty sergeant" went forward alone and 
completed the reconnaissance. In returning to the guard the 
captain stumbled, and the clanking of his sword drawing the 
attention of the French sentinels, they fired, and he fell mor- 
tally wounded. Sergeant Rogers protected his cajjtain till he 
gained the escort, with whose assistance he I'ccocded in bearing 
him alive to the trenches, (.\iptain Patton was able to make 
his report of the practicability of the assault and soon after- 
wards expired.* Sergeant Rogers died at Fuente Guinaldo in 
the following August. Of him Colonel Fletcher wrote : " he 

" Jones's ' Sieges,' vol. i., p. 10, 2nd edit. 
* ' United Service .lournal,' ii., 1831, p. 329. 

■'' Jones's 'Sieges,' vol. i., p. 70, 2nd edit. ' United Service Journal,' ii., 183], 
p. 331. 



lUSTdlfY ol-' THE 


was an attentive, good soldier, and in every way a most esti- 
mable character." 

In May the detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Fletcher 
received an addition of thirty-nine men ; and on tiio 2'Jth .June 
a further reinforcement of sixty-three non-connnissioned officers 
and men under Lieutenants Melhuish and De Salaberry, royal 
engineers. In consequence of this augmentation, the men of 
the infantry acting as overseers and mechanics on the lines, 
rejoined their respective regiments; and the pobts thus vacated 
were occupied by the newly-arrived detachments of military 

The whole force of the corps in I'or' \1 amounted in July 
to 8 sergeants, 5 corporals, IG secoi torals, 3 drummers, 

and 145 privates; total, 177. Of thio .ioer a comparatively 

small party only was kept with the army, whilst the remainder 
were distributed to the lines, Sobral, Oeyras, the Almada 
position, Peniche, Abrantcs, Alhandra, Fort St. Julian, &c. 
In conducting the works at those places, " the abilities and 
good conduct of the men were found of the utmost advantage." 
At I'ort St. Julian particularly, where they were enii)loyed in 
the formation of four extensive jetties for the embarkation of 
troops in case of necessity, their skill and expertness were 
found of great importance. Sergeant John M'Kay had the 
executive superintendence of the work under the direction of 
Captain Ilolloway, ll.E. 

The detachment with the moving army was broken up into 
sections of five or six men to each division or corjjs, and one or 
other of them was at the blockade of Almeida, Fuentes d'Onoro, 
Albuera, Campo Maior, and the several other actions which 
occurred in the Peninsula during the campaign of 18JJ. 

From Cadiz Sub-I^ieutenant Davie and fifty men under 
Captain J. F. Birch of the royal engineers, were detached with 
Sir Thomas Graham's force, and landed at Algeciras 22nd 
February. Being armed with short swords only. Sir Thomas 
caused them to be furnished with such spare nniskets, accoutre- 
ments, and amnmnition as could be collected, to defend them- 
' Jones's ' Sieges,' toI. i., p. 90, 2nd edit. 




8clv«'9 if iieccHsary on the march. They won* then placfd at 
the head of the cohimn to remove obstruetiona and faeilitate the 
adviiiiee of tlic nriny. On the .'ith Marcli, Barrona was foufflit, 
and tlie detiiehinent of artificers was present in tiie battle. 
Here sergeant .loini ("atneron {jrave a manifestation of his zeal 
by leadini^ to the ehnrpc a section of seven men. They jm'ssed 
wiierc the ti<fht was wannest ; and in a few moments hist one 
private — John Storie — killed and two wounded. The blue 
uniform of the artificers was distinctly seen amon<»' the red 
coats of the line, and Sir Thomas (Jraham ordered the instant 
withdrawal of the party to t\w rear, observiufj that he mij,dit 
want it for other work. Tuc sergeant was to have been tried 
by a court-martial for taking the men into action without orders ; 
but his bravery saved him. 

In June a second-corporal and four military artificers of the 
Cadiz company under Lieut«'nant Harry D. Jones, were at- 
tached to (Colonel SkeiTett's expedition to assist the Spaniards 
in sustaining the siege of Tarragona ; but the fortress fell while 
the British troops were in the roadstead. The party of artificers 
landed and occupied quarters in St. George's Barracks, near 
Mahon, in the island of Minorca, and returned to La Isla in July. 

In the following October, two artificers were sent from Cadiz 
for the defence of Tarifa under Captain C F. Smith, R.E. Two 
also were sent there from Gibraltar by ('olonel Sir Charles 
llolloway, the chief engineer at tlie fortress. Ultimately the 
engineers' means were increased to seventeen men of all ranks, 
who were emj)loyed as overseers in strengthening the defences of 
the jilace, and tlu^y carried on their duty with energy and credit. 
One private was wounded on the 20th December. A detach- 
ment of variable strength continued at Tarifa until April, 1813, 
when it returned to Cadiz. 

A reinforcement of twenty men under Sub-Lieutenant Stewart 
(^alder, sailed in November on board the ' Tartar ' transport for 
(!adiz, and landed l)efore the end of the year. The artificer 
force there now counted lOl of all ranks. 

Anholt, an island of Denmark in possession of the British, 
had been attacked bv the Danes in March, and the fortifications 




consecjuently were much damaged. No officer of the royal 
engineers being available for the duty of restoring the defences, 
corporal Alexander Borthwick of the royal military artificers, 
an experienced mechanic, ' i sent there in His Majesty's ship 
' Ilelder,' with two privates as overseers. They landed in 
September and were quartered in Fort Yorke under Lieutenant 
John Bezant, the ordnance storekeeper. The marines on the 
island were employed on the works, and each received for 
his labour 2>i. id. a-day. They worked with attention and 
spirit. In six months all the authorized renewals and improve- 
ments were executed ; and in May, a further sum of 8,700^. 
having been voted for completing the defences of the island, 
additional works were commenced to place the fortifications in 
tv state to sustain a regular siege. In preparing to meet an 
a])prehend( (1 attack on the island by tin; Danes, corporal Borth- 
wick made various effective arrangeminits for the dispositioi 
and emj)loyment of the working parties, and gained the thanks 
of the JNIilitary Commandant, Major Torrcns, royal marines. 
Shortly after. Admiral Martin being of opinion that the forti- 
fications were =uHiciently tenable to stand an attack, the works 
were suspended; and in August, 1812, Borthwick and his 
overseers returned to England. For his conduct and services 
at Anliolt he was promoted to be sergeant ; and a commission 
to a siib-lieutenancy was to have been confei'red on him, but in 
the interim he became involved in some serious irregularities, 
which ])revented the reward and ultimately ruined him. 

St) many detachments had been i)rovided for the colonies 
and the war, that appeals for reinforcements or more extended 
aid could only occasionally be attended to. From the Peninsula 
and elsewhere, therefore, re])rescntations had been made of the 
necessity for increasing the corj)s, and augmenting the engi- 
neers' means for carrying on with efficiency the duties of the 
department. The proposals at length met with due consider- 
ation ; and on the 28th May a warrant was issued for an 
improved organization of the corps, enlarging its establishment 
to an extent connnensurate with the precautions which the dis- 
turbed sta'e of Eur()|)e rendered advisable. 


The warrant sanctioned an increase of 1,347 men, abolished 
the rank of company-sergeant-major, added to the number of 
the s\ib-lieutenants, and divided the corps into four battalions of 
eight companies, each company being constituted as follows : — 

Sub-Lieutenant I 

Sergeants 5 

Coi'iiorals 5 

Second-Corporals 5 

Drummers 3 

Carpenters 15 

Masons 10 

Bricklayers 6 

Smiths 4 

Wheelers 2 

Collar-makers 2 

Cooler 1 

Miners ' SO 

Total .... 89 
The establishment of the corps was fixed as under : — 

I Adjutants' .... 4 

Serp^'ant-majors ... 4 

Quartermaster-Sergeants 4 

D am-major .... 1 

Sub-Lieutenants 32 

Sergeants IfiO 

Corporals !60 

Second-Corporals 160 

Drummers 96 

Privates 2,240 

Total . . . 2,861 

exclusive of the three companies of Maltese military artificers. 
The annual expense oft! corj)^, not including working pay and 
other fluctuating contirt'.'ucies, amounted to ^7,730^. 14s. 3\d. 
At this period 5 sub-iieutenants, 1 sergeant-mnjor, and 130 
men were employed on the recruiting service. 

' A third of whom were to be gardeners, hedgers, or canal-diggers, but only 
to be enlisted on siieeial authority from head-iiuarters. 

" These appointments were never conferred. The whoie business of the 
corps was carried on by an Adjutant, who held his office independently of the 




In all practicable cases, general and field-officers were de- 
prived of the command of companies, which now ceased to be 
stationary, but were removed by rotation of relief from one 
station to another, the same as the companies of the royal 
artillery. The employment of men on detached duties was 
also discouraged, and companies were composed of a convenient 
strength to enable them to move in bodies. 

Upon the stationary condition of the corps a celebrated 
officer of the royal engineers has made the subjoined correct 
remarks : — ° " From the close of the American war till the year 
1811, all the companies of royal military artificer were kept 
permanently fixed at their re^jjective stations, both at home and 
abroad, where they remained for life, in what may, for military 
men, be styled a state of vegetation ; so that they were, at that 
period, a vast number of men who had actually grown grey in 
the corps, who had never entered a transport, nor made a single 
day's march from the head-quarters of their company. To the 
men at Gibraltar and other foreign stations the service of the 
corps was thus rendered almost equivalent to transportation for 
life. Everywhere they intermixed with civilians ; they married 
in a proportion unknown in any other corps ; so much so, that 
the number of women and children belonging to one company 
was often equal to that of a battalion of the line." '° 

Under the new arrangement the companies were distributed 
as follows : — 

Woolwich .... 
Chatham .... 
Portsmouth and Gosport 
PI) mouth .... 


(juciTiscy .... 



Cork 2 

Gibraltar 3 

Newfoundland ... 1 

Halifax 1 

West Indies .... 2 

Cadiz 'I 

Portugal 4 

" Pasley's ' Elementary Fortification,' note A, p. iv., vol. i. 

'" There was a William Painter at Gibraltar, whose affluence was something 
extraordinary. lie enlisted into the corps in .Inly, 1798, and though a man 
of very useful intelligence, only attained the rank of second-corporal in 1807. 
He tried to procure his discharge to return to his estate in Cornwall, hut such 
was the pressure for men, his desire was negatived. His humble position. 




with detachments from the above to Eastbourne and tlie Sussex 
coast, Hythe, Cape Breton, New Brunswick, (Jeylon, Cape of 
Good Hope, Sicily, the Ionian Islands, and Madeira. 

Tiie companies at Cadiz were the sixth and seventh of the 
first battalion ; and those in Portugal were the fifth, sixth, 
seventh, and eighth of the second battalion. At this time 
the co'ps counted a force of nearly 1,500 men. More than 
half were employed in foreign possessions and colonial defence. 
The remainder, distributed in home garrisons and the Channel 
Islands, includ \ a large proportion of aged men, invalids, and 
recruits. P tie end of the year the reconstruction of the 
companies was completed ; and from continual accessions of 
squads of recruits, rapidly equipped and disciplined, the corps 
was soon in a condition, to a greater extent than heretofore, to 
meet such incidental necessities as might arise. 

Eleven sergeants were commissioned to be sub-lieutenants 
during the year. Some joim d from the royal artillery. All 
were distinguished either as sdldiers or artificers, particularly 
Sub-Lieutenant Mum' who was an " injvenious and skilful 
mec.ianic," and hi^• ntions, which met with general appro- 
bation, were attended v li coiisideraMf saving to the (Joveni- 
ment. llie captain of his cunipaip in making a record ol his 
acquirements, wrote that Lieutnumt Munro " was the most 

however, did not prevent his living in ease and luxury. lie kept his servants, 
horses, and, it is said, his carriage, and entertained and enjoyed ver ^;ood 
society. Well could he do all this, for, coupling with his ow n receipts hi^ wife's 
settlement, he possessed an income of c'crcu /tuiulirih jvn. . i-i/! He died 
at the Kock, August 13, 1811, aged 45 years. Uy his U \w left 5000/. stock 
to his two sons — John, and William Grible; .lOO/. to Suh-I-ii iiteiiant Falconer 
and his family, and a few smaller legacies to relatives and an attached servant, 
besides consi<lerable landed property, houses, anil the usual legal uldcnda of 
"messuages, tenements, and hereditaments" at Gwemiap in Cornwall to his 
elder son John, " and his heirs for ever." The widow, uii ' • iiturc, was in 

receipt of 5.'j(t/. a-year. 

As if to show how likely fortune is to be overtaken by calamity, Snh- 
Lieutenant Falconer, five days after the death-bed remembrance of the corpo- 
ral, wiis fired at from an open window by private Samuel Fraser. The ball 
luckily missed him, but whizzed sufficiently near to be alarming. The ruffiiin 
was sent to a eondemued regiment in commutation for his sentence of one 
thousand lushes ! 




zealous and intelligent non-commissioned officer whom he had 
met in the course of his services." " 

" He invented an engine for nipping lead shot, used for years in the royal 
laboratory, but for which an impostor and spy, nanvcd De Hainc, received a 
reward of 500/. While filling the office of inspector of ordnance stores, he 
made various improvements in the mechanical and intrenching tools. He also 
detected many extraordinary frauds in the deliveries made by contractors. In 
one attempted imposition only, he saved the Government 2000/. He designed 
and constructed a life-ladder, which was frequently used with success at fires, 
aud an ingenious mortar-mill which occasioned a great saving of expense to 
the department. At Chatham he invented many useful tools, implements, and 
apparatus, and his services were repeatedly acknowledged in the order books 
of the establishment. 





Plymouth company instructed in field duties — Engineer establishment at 
Chatham — Major Pasley appointed its director — Discipline and drill of corps 
— Its character — Sir John Sinclair ex-private — Title of corps changed — Cap- 
tain G. Buchanan — A sergeant acrobat — Cuidad Kodrigo— Exertions of a 
company on the march to the siege— :{epairs to the fortress — Siege of Badajoz 
— Difficulties in removing the stores to the park— Duties of the sappers 
in the operation — Gallant behaviour of Patrick IJooney and William Harry 
— Also of a party at Fort Picurina, and of Patrick Hurke and Robert Miller 
— Hazardous attempt to blow down the hatardeau in the ditch of the lunette, 
and conduct of corporal Stack — Bravery of a party in mining under the 
bridge of tlie inundation — Distribution of the Peninsular companies and 
their services — Bridges of Yecla and Serrada — Reinforcement to Spain — 
Salamanca — Burgos, and boldness of Patrick Burke and Andrew Alexander 
at the siege — Bridge of Alba — Carthagena — Reinforcement to Cadiz; action 
at Seville — Reinforcement to the Peninsula and distribution of the sappers — 
Green Island — Tarragona — First detachment to Bermuda. 

Majoh Pasley, R.E., on his appointment to tbe Plymouth 
station, occasionally practised his company in sapping and 
mining. lie was one of those officers who took pains to improve 
the militaiy appearance and efficiency of his men, and to make 
them useful cither for home or foreign employment. He is 
believed to have been the first officer who represented the 
advantage of training the corps in the construction of military 

After the failure of Badajoz in 1811 the necessity of this 
measure was strongly advocated by the war officers. Then 
it was recommended to fonn a corps under the name of royal 
sappers and miners, to be composed of six companies chosen 
from the royal military artificers, which after receiving some 
instruction in the art, wjis to be sent to the Peninsula to aid the 
troops in their future siege operations.' Early in this year 
' .lones's ' Sieges,' 2nd edit,, ii., p. Il'Jd. 




[1812] the suggestion was repeated by Sir Richard Fletcher; 
and Lord Wellington having also, in the most forcible manner, 
brought the subject to the notice of the Secretary of State," a 
warrant was issued under date of the 23rd April for the forma- 
tion of an establishment for instructing the corj)s in military 

Lord Mulgrave, the Master-(jeneral, selected Chatham as 
the most suitable place for carrying out the royal orders, and 
appointed Major C. \V. Pasley director of the establishment. 
The exertions of that officer at Plymouth naturally singled him 
out for the post. The better to effect his purpose, he pub- 
lished for the use of the corps, elementary works on fortifica- 
tion, geometry, &c. of the greatest simplicity ; and they have 
ever since been the text-books of the institution. In addition 
to sapping and mining, his system comprised bridge-makings 
[)ontooning, the use of ropes, mechanical appliances, and all 
other arts and contrivances, which the corps, in its connection 
with the engineer department, is likely to be called on to per- 
form. " Uniting," says Sir John Jones, " great zeal and 
unwearied perseverance with good ialents" and judgment, 
Major Pasley "succeeded in extending the course far beyond 
these objects," and not only " filled the ranks of the corps 
with good scholars, good surveyors, and good draughtsmen," 
but enabled many, after quitting the service, to occpy with 
ability and credit, situations of considerable importance in civil 

The formation of the school at Chatham increased the means 
for discipline and drill. Other stations, stimulated by the 
example, paid greater attention to their enforcement. The 
injurious system of changing officers incessantly was now abo- 
lished ; and the juniors, among a stated number of the second 
captains, first lieutenants, and second lieutenants of the royal 
engineers, were appointed regimental officers of the companies. 
Sir John Jones has recorded that " the men generally were of 
superior acquirements and well-disposed," and the above changes 

* ' Wellington Dispatches,' 1845, v., p. 5U8. 
•' .luncs's ' Sieges,' and edit., ii., ].. .'iOi. 








had the best possible effect upon their general behaviour.^ " By 
linking officei"s and men together," he added, " and closely 
coiniecting their mutual interests, discipline and pride were given 
to the soldier," and character to the corps.'^ 

More fully to accord with its recognized duties the Master- 
General on the 4th August, ordered that the royal military 
artificers should be hereafter styled, Royal Military Artificers or 
Sappers and Miners." 

Captain G. Buchanan, the adjutant, resigned the appoint- 
ment, and C'aj)tain Rice Jones, under commission dated 1st 
February, succeeded to it. During his period of office, 
Captain Buchanan, besides attending to its many official re- 
quirements and details, performed duty on the works like other 
officers of engineers. By his application and exertions he 
ruined his health. Captain Rice Jones was relieved from the 
duties of the district, and the pay of the appointment was 
increased from 6s. to 10s. a-uay.' 

* Among the recruits at this period was Sir John Sinclair, Bart., who, on 
the 12th August, 1812, enlisted iu the name of John Smith. Through various 
misfortunes he was reduced from affluence to poverty. Noticed by Cidouel 
Pilkiugton, R.E., for his uniform good conduct and attainments, he was piu- 
moted to the rank of second-corporal, and provided with a quarter at the main- 
guard in the royal arsenal. His lady sometimes visited him in all the pride 
of her station, but his own rank was as yet unsuspected. From a comrade — 
afterwards Sub-I.ieutcnaiit II. U. Mackenzie— he frequently borrowed plain 
clothes to elude arrest in the streets, and invariably proceeded to the Treasury 
by water to receive his allowance. He was at length dogged to Woolwich, 
and, on the .list August, 181.'!, being taken, was thrown into the debtors' side 
of Newgate, from whence he was removed to the Fleet Prison, where, for a 
year and a half he was confined, and was tlieu onlj- released by an error in 
law. Thirteen months' sickness and distress followed his release, during 
which time he was supplied with means by an acquaintance of his earlier and 
happier days. All the wliile the whereabouts of John Smith was unknown, 
but, advised by his friend, he confessed hiu'self a deserter, and iu imploring 
pardon and indemnity for past errors, solicited to he received for life in the 
New S-juth Wales Corps. The pardon was granted, and being relieved from 
further service in tlie sappers, he was agtiiu left at liberty to follow his own 

' Jones's ' Sieges,' 2nil edit., ii., pp. 3'Ji), 391. 

' Sir John Jones, by mistake, vol. ii. p. 390, makes the alteration of the 
name of the corps antecedent to the creation of the establishment at Chatha^t. 

? Soon after this change, an act of gross indiscipline occurred, which wi.M 
afford a tolerable notion of some of the singular characters who held rank in 




The siege of Cuidad Rodrigo began on the 8th and termi- 
nated on the 19th January when the fortress was carried by 
storm. In this siege eighteen rank and file of the royal mili- 
tary artificers were present, of whom one was killed and ten were 
wounded. In carrying on their duties they were sometimes 
annoyed by the presence of light balls thrown by the enemy into 
the sap. The instiuit th.ey alighted .some bold sappers, heedless 
of the peril they incurred, rushed to the spot, and in a few 
seconds extinguished them with sand-bags or smothered them 
by shovelling earth upon the flames."* The conduct of the party 
during the operations was praised by Lord Wellington." 

To join the siege party, the fifth company second battalion 
of forty-one men, had been embodied at Alhandra from the 
different districts of Torres Vedras, and marched for Cuidad 
Rodrigo on the 2nd January. It had in charge a large assort- 
ment of intrenching tools to be used in the works before that 
fortress. The weather was bitterly cold, a considerable quantity 
of rain had fallen, and the roads were cut into deep ruts and 
covered with pools. Frequently the jaded mules dropped from 
fatigue ; and to relieve them, the men were constantly compelled, 
either to lead them instead of the disaffectinl muleteers, or take 
the labour of the animals themselves. After a trying and toil- 
some journey of seventeen days, the company arrived in front of 
(Juidad Rodrigo on the nighi of the 19th January, but took no 
part in the storming.'" 

tlic corps. A sergeant's guard usvinlly mounted in the sappers' barracks at 
Woolwich. Que morning sergeant Millar was appointed to the new guard, 
and during the ceremony of " mounting," was posted in front of it. Lieute- 
nant Eaves, tlie officer on duty, gave the usual words of command. " Sergeant^ 
to your giiurd, march I Millar no sooner heard it, than he whirled his hal- 
herd in ihe air, and as every one stood amazed to see the upshot of this mad 
mancpiivre, tlie pike turned point downwards and stuck in the earth. At this 
moment, to complete the extravaganza, Millar pitched on his hands, and with 
his legs towering erect in the air, paddled, with all the flexibility and steadi- 
ness of an acrobat, to his wondering guard ! 

" Jones's ' Sieges,' i. p. .3(J9, 3rd edit., and note added by Colonel Harry D. 

" • Wellin; m Dispatches,' 1845, v., p. 470. 

"> Sir John Jones, in his ' Sieges,' i. p. 1.30, 2nd edit., records, by mistake, 
the arrival of the company on the l.Mh instead of the )9th January. 






The above company and detachment were afterwards em- 
ployed in restoring and improving the defences of the place. 
Paid by measurement for their labour, they greatly exerted 
tliemselves, notwithstanding the bitter weather to which they 
were exposed. Corporal James Dou;rla8 was intrusted with the 
charge of the restoration. 

In the siege of Badajoz from lOth March to Gth April, the 
military artificers bore an important part. There were present 
115 of all ranks, being portions of the fifth and seventh com- 
panies, second battalion, from Cuidad Rodrigo ; and the sixth 
of the second battalion from the Almada position. A company 
from Cadiz comprising men of the sixth land seventh companies, 
first battalion, did not join till nearly the conclusion of the 
siege. The company disembarked at Ayamonte and ascended 
the valley of the Guadiana on the Portugal side, partly by boats 
and partly by marching. No British soldiers, save this com- 
pany, had ever been in that part of Portugal. 

All the engineers' means for the operation were conveyed 
from Elvas to Badajoz under charge of the corps, for which 
purpose 120 pairs of bullocks were pressed into the service. 
The eflTcctual removal of the stores was accomplished under 
great difficulties. From the desertion of the drivers, taking 
with them their oxen, and the weakly condition of others, many 
of the sappers frequently yoked themselves to the abandoned 
burdens, and in caiTying them through the Guadiana at the 
fords, were sometimes borne down the stream by the rapidity of 
the current. Nearly all the stores, however, reached the depot 
at the appointed time. 

In the distribution of the men, a strong party was nominated 
for the duty of the park, to repair tools, make scaling-ladders, 
platforms, &c., and tlie remainder, told off into seven brigades, 
performed good services as overseers and leading sappers in 
the trenches and the batteries. Sub-Lieutenants A. Wallace 
and R. Gibb who joined in January, volunteered their services 
as assistants in the trenches, and both discharged their duties 
" extremely well." Their conduct was noticed in flattering terms 
in a letter to General Mann, the inspector- general of fortifications. 




Soon uftur commencing operations, corporal Patrick Rooney 
signalized himself by laying gun platforms in the day-timo 
under a warm fire from the enemy. No less conspicuous was 
jmvate William Harry, who opened in dayli<;ht under fire of 
the I'icurina, the embrasures of a masked battery. In exe- 
cuting these diangcrous services, their firnnicss and skill had the 
effect of stinmlating the workmen to the i)rompt performance of 
similar exploits. 

At the storming of Fort Picurina the royal military artificers 
who preceded the columns, conducted themselves with the 
" greatest gallantry and coolness." Particular mention is made 
of those «ho accompanied Captain llolloway of the royal 
engineers, in leading the reserve column to the place. En- 
cumbered with ladders and axes, they broke through a line of 
palisades on the covertway, planted the ladders against the 
counterscarp, and then, descending into the ditch, moved the 
laddei-s across to the scarp with the greatest " steadiness and 
precision." Instiintly they mounted, and after tearing down the 
fraises to a suflicient extent for the escalade, ascended the 
ramparts and dashed through the embrasures into the fort. 
Private I'atrick Eurke, a bold soldier, took a leading part in 
the assault and was amongst the foremost that entered the 
place. On the parapet Captain llolloway fell severely wounded. 
Lance-corporal Robert Miller rushed to his rescue, and at 
imminent personal peril, guarded his body and bore him in 
safety to the camp. 

Late in the siege a hazardous attempt was made bj Lieu- 
tenant Stanway, R.E. to blow down the batardeau in the ditch 
of the lunette for the purpose of drawing off" the inundation. 
lie was accompanied by an officer and twenty men of the royal 
military artificers, of w hom lance -corporal \Villiam Stack gave 
proof of prominent zeal and daring. The powder-l.Mirrels were 
duly placed against the dam and fired ; but the efi'ect intended 
was not produced, and the party returned to the trenches 
without loss. 

In the final assault of Badajoz, selected men of the corps 
accompanied each of the colun»ns to the breaches, bearing 




liulders, hatchets, crowbars, Ac, and cxccntod the duty alluttod 
to thcMii with tho utmost bravery. After storiuing the lunette 
St. lloijue, a party of tlie royal military artiiicers, under Lieu- 
tenant Wrijrht, R. 1;^. displayed exinrtness and eourage in 
miniiifj under the dam and bridge of the inundation. Of tho 
general services and conduct of the s-appers " durinjf the opera- 
tions of the siege and in its close," it is recorded that they 
" distinguislied " themselves." 

Privates ^^'illiam Bond and Kdward Doran were killed, and 
five rank and file wounded at the storming. Tn the trenches, 
during the operations, corporal .Fohn Blackadder was killed, arid 
Sub- Lieutenant Wallace wounded. Many others also were 
wounded, but the precise number cannot be traced. 

Soon after the captiu'c, the detachment of the sixth and 
seventh companies, first battalion, returned to ('adiz, Mjijor- 
Cleneral (.^ooke having represented the desirableness of maintain- 
ing th(! corps in adequate strength to carry out the defensive 
operations under his orders.'- The sixth of the second battalion 
was attached to the expedition for besieging Tarragona,'-' and 
portions of the fifth and seventh companies, second battalion, 
renuiined at Radajoz to assist in the repairs of the breaches, and 
in improving the defences of the town. One private was killed 
by the unexpected explosion of a blast when he applied the 
match to fire it. The restorations were effected before the close 
of the year, and to mark the date, some masons of the cor|)8 
built the number of the year with 24-j)onnd shot in the escarp 
wall of the face of the bastion La Trinidad. 

" ' Wellington Dispatches,' edit. 1845, v., p. 579. 

'» Ibid, v., p. 6.50. 

'^ In the Dispatch to the Earl of Liverpool, dated Fuente Guinaldo, loth 
June, 1812, the Earl of Wellington states, " I have likewise sent from tliis 
country to Gibraltar Lieutenant-Colonel .Jones and four subaltern officers of 
engineers, and two companies of military artificers, including all the sappers 
there arc with the army," to join the corps d'armce under Lieutenant-General 
Lord William Dentinck, " to make an attack on the eastern coast of the Penin- 
sula, with the troops from Sicily." — -Wellington Dispatches, 1845, v., p. 706, 
707. The above company, 92 strong, was the only one despatched from Por- 
tugal, hut one of the Maltese military artificers from Messina was added to 
the engineers' means for the siege, which made a combined sapper-force of 1 34 

VOL. I. 




The bridgps of Yccla ami Scrradii, which spanned the Ycbra 
— a bnuich (if the Douro between Salamniicn and Cuidad 
Rodrigo — were mined in Decemlwr 1811 by Spanish miners, 
with a few privates of the sapi)er8 as overseers, nndcr the 
direction of Lieutenant W. Rcid, royal engineers. Owing to 
the flinty nature of the cement giving the compactness of rock 
to the structures, it required a fortnight's unceasing toil — day 
and night — to drive the shafts. The mines were fired in April, 
following, when one arch of the Vecla was bl >wn down, and a 
j)ier and two arclies of the Serrada were destroyed. 

Sub-Li 'utonant C. IJooth and ninety-five men reinforced the 
companies in Spain under Sir llichard Fletcher. Nine men 
also joined from Madeira. Both parties landed in April 
increasing the artificer force to 273 of all nr.ks. All tlie 
cfFective men were attached to the difterent divisions of the 
army, or were dispersed on various duties throughout the 
country. Those remaining at Badajoz were instructed in sap- 
ping and mining under Lieutenant Harry Jones of the royal 

In June, nine rank and file were present under Lieutcnant- 
(!!olonel Burgoyne, II. E., at the siege of the fortified posts at 
Salamanca. Private James Durant was killed in the trenches 
on the night of the 17th June, and four privates were wound. 'd. 
Thanks for their good conduct in the siege of the forts was con- 
veyed to them in general orders.'* 

Eight of the corps were present in August at the capture of 
the Retiro at Madrid, and at the siege of Burgos in September 
and October. All were employed as overseers in the park and 
the trenches, ('orporal M. Develin was killed, and tiie remain- 
ing sever were wounded. The whole party proved themselves 
to be good soldiers and skilful miners. Deriving their instruc- 
tion, in great part, from the labours of previous sieges, they 
knew the best methods to achieve success. At Fort Christoval 
the want of experienced miners rendered it impracticable to crown 
the glacis and prevent the garrison removing the debris from 
the foot of the breach. At Burgos, on the contrary, though 

'* 'Wellington Dispatches," 1845, v., p. 724. 




the assiiults wore frequent before tlie place fell, this handful 
of aappers, aHslsited by some miners from the fjuarda, success- 
fully worked up to the fortress, and formed effective breaches 
by mining, in the castle walls.'' Private Patrick Burke, a 
distinguished stormer at Badajoz, was remarked for bis useful- 
ness and resolution in the explosion of a mine ; and priva^5 
Andrew Alexander for his valour in leading the workmen to 
crown the crater of a mine on the enemy's glacis before the 
breach. The fifth company, second battalion, was sent in 
advance with stores for the siege but arrived too late to share 
in the operation. 

In the retreat to the frontier of Portugal a few men of the 
corps mined the bridge at Alba on the Tormes, under Captain 
Goldfinch of the engineei's. An eye-witness who observed their 
exertions says, " In crossing the bridge, we found the sajipers 
hard at work mining and layn.^ barrels of gunpowder to blow 
up the centre arch."'* I'he bridge was accordingly destroyed 
to check tlie advance of the enemy. This small i)arty also 
assisted in the hasty intrenchraents thrown up to defend the 
castle, and was present in repulsing the attack on the place. 

In January a corporal and nine privates were detached from 
La Isla to Carthagena to strengthen the fortifications there. 
Private Thomas Grewer was killed in springing a mine. The 
detachment returned to La Isla in April, 1814. 

A draft of twenty-eight non-commissioned officers and men 
landed at (^adiz in Aj)ril to reinforce the sixth and seventh 
companies, first iKittalion. In August following, a sergeant 
and ten rank ar ; file were present with Colonel Skerrit's force 
in the action at Seville on the 27th of the month. They re- 
joined their companies in September. 

Late in the year Lieutenant Matson of the royal engineers, 
having under his command Sub-Lieutenants R. Turner and C. 
Gratton and 135 non-commissioned officers and men, joined the 
corps in the Peninsula. Many of them had been instructed in 

" Jones's ' Sieges,' notes by Colonel Harry D. Jones, i., p. 13.'i, 377,3rd 

'« ' United Service Journal,' 2, 1829, p. 284, 285. 


190 lllSTOUY OF THE [1812. 

the formation of military field-works. The total of the artificer 
force ill Spain and Portugal in December, reached the following 
numbers : — 

Lisbon, liadiijoz, uud with the army in the field . 30''l 

Alioant '.)•> 

Cadiz lO'l 

Taiifa 11 

Cartliagena 6 

Total . . . . 515 

including Snb-Lieutenants Wallace, (Jibb, Booth, Turner, and 
(Jratton. During the year the casualties in the dctiiclnnent 
under Sir ivichard I'letcher were, nine invalided and forty-three 
deaths. In 3Iay the number sick counted thirty-one ; in 
Decoinher it was increased to sixty- one. 

At Cirecn Island, opjjosite Algeciras, four privates were 
employed in rejiairing the defences early in the year under 
Lieutenant A. Hrown of the corps. \Vhen completed they 
returned to Gibraltar. 

Tiie first company of Maltese Artifioors of forty-one total, 
and one smith of the royal military artificers, left Messhia in 
June under the command of Major Thackeray, K.E., with the 
exjiedition against Tarragona. At Port Maiioii, Minorca, they 
were joined [)y tiie sixth company, first battalion. Both com- 
panies soon afterwards landed at Alicant, and portions of them 
were emjiloyed on such occasional services as the course of 
events deniaiided. 

Bermuda was this year apjiointed a station for the corps. 
Two sergeants, one drummer, and fifty rank and file, embarked 
(111 the 21st August on board the ' ( 'iitheriiie,' freight-ship, and 
arrived at tne island 20th November. The detachment gene- 
rally were inferior artificers and ill-behaved men. Throughout 
the voyage they were discontented and mutinous ; and after 
landing, animadversion and piinislnnent for a long time had 
but little ertict in checking their excesses and insubordination. 
Captain (Junningham, royal engineers, commanded the party. 





Designation of corps modified — Uiiif'orni— Working-dross — Arms — Mode of 
promoting non-commi'^sioMed oHiocrs — liank of colour-surgeant created — 
("onipauy to '^anada — Reinforcement to Hernmda — Sub-Lieutenant Mac- 
kenzie appointed Town-Major tliere— SieknoRS at Gil)raltar — Services of 
eonipanj in K,im »'atalouia--Mallui da Sorda— Services on the advance to 
\'itloria -Hridge at Tcuu -Hlockade of I'anipeluua — Pyrenees — Stockades 
near lioncesvalles— San Sebastian and services of tin corps at the siege - 
Valour of sergeants Powis and P:ivis— Of private IJorland; and of corporal 
Evans — Casualties in the siege — Restoration of the fortifications — Pontoon 
train — ISidassoa — Iirii'f;e across it, and conduct of privates Owen ("onnor 
and Nowlan — Vera — NivcHe, and lie'iaviour of corporal Couucill — Hridge 
cv-er that river — Hridgcs over the IVive, and daring exertions of private 
Dowling — Fording the Xive, and posts of honour accorded to corporal 
.laiuieson and private P, .'.d — Stren^ih and distribution of corps in the 
Peninsula — Ji'ecruiting. 

To corresiJOiKl witli tlio iiiteiitii)ns of the (lovcriiinciit with 
respect to tlio future duties of the corj)^, the titk> was ajiaiii 
ehauged on the 5th Mnreh, from " royal military artificers or 
saj)j)ers and miners," to " U()\al Sapjicrs and Miners." Some 
mistrust and discontent were occasioned by this second altera- 
tion, hut conciliatory explanations restored confidence and 

A chanire of dress followed the change of name. This 
originated with the war officers in the Peninsula. Working 
with the line at the sieges, it was considered desirable to assimi- 
late the dress of the two services ; anil scarlet with blue facings 
was introduced to ret'der the men less conspicni/us to tht; 
I'liemy and less subject to danger. No material alteration 
was made in the cut and froggiiig of the coatee. I'or par- 
ticidar parades, the white breeches and long gaiters were con- 
tinued, e.\cept in the I'eninsn'a, wiu're ofey trou.-ici's and ankle 




gaiters were substituted. The chaco — a .singular concoction 
from the German mitre, preserved in Hogarth's " March to 
Finchley," and the " smoke-jjick " — was much higher in front 
than in rear and decorated with yellow cords and tassels. A 
short white feather, worn at the left side of the chaco, just 
peered above the curve of the fan. See Plate X. 

The working dress consisted of a plain red jacket with short 
skirts, grey trousers with red stripes, short spats, shoes with 
brass clasps, and a leather cap worn lengthways, or square, 
bearing on its front leaf in brass, the initials of the corps, 
and subsequently a crown and garter ornament. This much- 
disliked head-covering was a remote but unsightly variety of 
the cocked hat ; and in lieu of tassels was furnished at the 
corners with black silk ribbon ties of some length. See Plate 
XI. Some companies wore white linen overalls, buttoned the 
whole length of the outer seam. At Cadiz, previous to the 
general change, the companies wore grey trousers with a black 
stripe down each outer seam, and a grey cloth forage-cap, 
trimmed with black braid, and the letters R. M. A. on the left 
side of the cap. 

Greater attention was now paid to arming the corps. Here- 
tofore, in this respect, many irregularities had crept in. At 
Nov/foundland the detiichment was armed with swords, cut- 
Itosses, and accoutrements of every shape, saved from the 
American war. In the West Indies the companies used the 
shattered remains of old armouries and black accoutrements 
of various patterns. In Sicily the military artificers could only 
muster a few foreign cumbersome firelocks ; whilst the iVIaltese 
artificers were unable to appear with a weapon of any kind. 
For a number of years the Gibraltar c()mj)anies wore the 
obsolete accoutrements and cartouche-boxes of a disbanded 
Newfoundland regiment ; and a party of the corps on its way 
to the Peninsula, did duty with pikes and blunderbusses. 
Among the sergeants the swords and belts were very dis- 
similar. Pern)itted to purchase their own arms, more attention 
was paid to fancy and ability of payment than uniformity. 
These and other anomalies were in-ogressivcly removed from 











'i^ 't 

riMf^^'^ •■^■■■-'' 



ffiutere wi' 


•'vtituted. "'"' 
iiiiti'c, , 


* singular <:oiicocti()!i 

Jloiifiriii '■ " March to 

t ' ■ vvas much liighrr in front 

aid .■l.>.:-.r«t. a .v;U) yellow cords tas.^fls. A 

, i";itiici\ worn at the loft dide of the chao«, just 

itio furve of the fan. See Plate X. 

;^)ic working dress consisted of a plain red jacket with short 

skirts, j.rrv;y trousci-- with ..^d stripes, shnrt sjwta, i'liui'y, with 

hrajis" cloisps, and a leather cap worn ienpthways, or square, 

hearing on its front leaf in brasn, the hiitialB of the corps, 

.1 ■"•"wn und ^ai^t-r ornjunent. 'Hiis much- 

.■nng yfi^i a remote but liiistgiitiy v«n»!ty of 

iiif, and io lifu of tassels was fumiahed sit the 

<*>nicrs witii black silk ritlxjn tieK of some length. See Plate 

XJ. Some companies wore \yhitc linen overalls, butti^nwl tlie 

wiiole lengtli of the outer ucani. At ( a<liz, previous to the 

general change, tlu^ companies wore grey trousers witli u black 

^triJM; down each outer seam, and a gr^y cloth forage-cap, 

tranmed with bhu-k hr.i'i!. .' 1 Om- letter; K. 'M. A. on tin loft 

side of the cap. 

Greater attention t.<;»w pm^d to arimiig th* corps, liore- 
ir.forc, in tijis resjicot- uiany irregularities had crept in. At 
iScwtoundl.ind the uet^icinuent w.ijs iumed with swordfe, cut- 
Ins-ies, and iccoutiomcnts of every shape, saved from tiie 
American war. In the \Ve?t Indies the fompauies used the 
siiatt<:'ri'd remain:? of old armouries and black a.;^outrements 
of various patlcnis. In Sicily the military artilicer» could only 
• Tunster a few foreign cumbeniome fiivlocks; whilat tb' >fHltese 
arti(lcei> wi^jv utHibl(" to .ipp . >' ' v ,i luy kind. 

For a number of yoarb tti«. mnis wore the 

obtiolete aecoutrements and cai'touclie-lwxes of a disbanded 
Newfomidland n^giment ; and a ! arty of the <i»i-j)s on its* way 
to the Peninsula, did duly with pikes and blunvk"b lases. 
Among the sergeants the swords !*.id belts were v\ ' dis- 
similar, Pennilt*".! to piu*chaie thoir own arms, more a>.\ 'on 
>viis pjud to fancy .iiid ability of payment tiian unifornu./. 
These and other aiiomalicH w«:!e i)rogre.'<sivcly removed from 










"f^m * 

















the corps in consequence of the improved method of officering 
the companies. 

In March an important plan was adopted for the promotion 
of non-commissioned officers. All men at home recommended 
for advancement, were sent to Woolwich to he examined. If 
found competent as artificers and soldiers, they were especially 
instructed in a uniform system of routine and drill, and 
returned perfect to their companies. A few years, however, 
showed the expouHe and inconvenience of the system, and it 
was necessarily relinquished. 

In July the rank of colour-sergeant ^^as granted to the 
corps. One was appointed to each company with the ])ay of 
2s. \)\(l. a-day, and was distingiiishcd by the badge of the oj)eri 
colour and cross swords on the right arin Sixpence a-day was 
also added to the pay of the sergeant-majors, which raised it 
to 4«. l^d. a-day. 

The third company, third battalion, of eighty-one men under 
Lieutenant G. Philpotts, 11.E., and Sub-Lieutenant James A. 
Stephenson, sailed for Canada on board the ' Zodiac ' transport 
on tiie 23rd April, and landed at Quebec on the 5th June. 
They had been trained in the field duties of the dc.iartmcnt at 
(Jhatham, and were the first of the corps ever en, ployed in the 
Canadiis. Nothing satisfactory is known of their services ; but 
they appear to have been much dispersed through the country, 
the greatest numbers being at Burlington Heights, Prescott, 
Point Henry, York, and Kingston. The last stiition was the 
head-quarters of the company. 

In the summer the detachment at Bermuda was increased to 
a com])any by the arrival of thirty men under Sub-Lieutenant 
Hugh B. Mackenzie,' from his Majesty's ship • Ardent.' 

At Gibraltar the companies suffered much from sickness 
during the year. Ophthalmia was also very prevalent. In 
December a malignant epidemic ai)pearcd in the garrison nnd 
nineteen deaths occurred in the companies. Nine other deaths 

' In laifi this officer was appointed Town-Major at Rormiula, anil from the 
able manner in which he discharged its duties, was honoured with the confi- 
dence and approval of his patron, Sir James Cockburn. 




took ])liic(' in tlio yt'iir, and twcnty-f'oiir were invalided. Tlie 
three companies at tlio Iloek were now reduecd from 207 to 
141 of all ranks. 

The sixth eoinjiany, seeond Imttalion, attaclied to the Anj^lo- 
Sieilian army at Alicant, sent ( the year jmrtions of the 
rompany with three expeditions undertaken by Sir John 
Murray and I^<ird William IJentinck, who were jtresent in the 
several movements and aifairs of the eam|iaitrn, inc.ndinj'' the 
action at the Biar Pass, battle of {!astalla, sici^e and capture 
of Fort Belaguer, and the second and third sieges of Tarra- 
gona. Thirty-nine men of the Maltese sappei's and miners 
accompanied these expeditions. Detachments of both corps 
were also cantoned, at dill'erent intervals, at \'^alencia ; and 
thirty men of the company made, in the island of Ivica, a 
liberal provision of fascines, gabions, and ])latforms, for the 
last siege of Tarragona. After Sucliet evacuated the place, and 
Lord William had marched to Villa Franca, the royal and 
Maltese sappers and miners commenced to clear and rei)air the 
breaches, and to restore, generally, the fortifications. Until 
April ISM they continued so employed, when, the works having 
Ijcen placed in as di^fensible a state as before their recent dv- 
struction,"' they sailed to rejoin the force under I^ord \\'illiam 
Hentinck in Italy. 

N\'itli the exception of a few scattered detachments, the 
conii)anies in the Peninsula under Sir Richard Flotelier were 
concentrated at Mallia da Sorda, and in January the seventh 
company, first battalion, from ('adiz, also joined tlu!re. All 
were practised as occasion permitted in the construction of 
field-works under Lieutenant li. Matson, royal engineciv. Sub- 
Lieutenant Gratton, who was ajtpointed adjutant, drilled the 
comjjanies and conducted the roster. 

On the army breaking u]) cantonments, the seventh company, 
first battalion, and the fifth and seventh comj)anics, second bat- 
talion, with Sub-Lieutenants (.'alder, (iratton, and ^\'allace, 
wen? attached to the |)ontoon train. The royal staff corps 
also accompanied it. Both corps assisted in the formation of 
' ' riiited Service .foiinml,' iii., 18 tt, j). 77, 78. 




hridfii'S for the jMiHsago of tho army, ('arryiiiff the pontoons 
down tht! steep banks of the Esla was an arduous service, hut 
the hridjrt' was tlirown acro.«s the river witli promptitude!. 
Without loss or material casualty, the companies reached Vit- 
toria, hut were not present at the hattle. At Zamora and Toro 
j)arties were left to construct earthworks for cover in the event 
of a retreat. ()th<'rs stationed on the Douro and the Ivsla, 
guarded and used tlie flying bridges over those rivers whenever 
reipiired by the troojts. 

Tiici eighth company, second battalion, with Sul)-Lieutenant 
Turner, was attached to the light division and encamped with 
the 43rd regimcMit. At night, while the Toro bridge was still 
burning, the company repaired the broken arch with ladders, 
trees, and ))lanks, under tiu; direction of IJeutenant I'dward 
Matson, R.E. ;' and was present at the battle of \'ittoria on 
the 21st June, but not actively engaged. One private was 
severely wounded ; and Sub-Lieutenant Turner received three 
shots about his person, but remained unhurt. 

At tho blockade of Pampcluna, from 25th .Tune to 1st No- 
vember, a detachment of twelve sajjpers and miners was em- 
ployed and superintended the working parties under the 
direction of Major ( Joldtinch, royal engineers. Private James 
Napier was killed. 

The seventh com])any first battalion, with Sub-Lieutenant 
(^alder, attached to the cor])s of the army under the conunand 
of Lieutenant-dieneral Sir Rowland Hill, was present at tho 
o])erations in the Pyrenees, including the actions at Maya and 

Under Lieutenant Peter Wright of the engineers, this com- 
pany, assisted by working parties from the line, erected several 
musket-proof stockade-redoubts on the sunmiits of the ridges in 
the neighbourhood of Roncesvalles ; and as the w eather was 
extremely cold, accompanied with rain and sometimes snow, the 
interior was so constructed as to serve the purjjose of a barrack 
to shelter a garrison of about 200 men. Young trees were found 

" Sir W. Napiur, in his ' I't'iiinsuliir War,' attritmtis, lij niistuki;, tliis survioo 
til Mi'iileiiaut G. Priiifilc, U.K. 



in prcat abundance on the mountain sides, which were sawn in 
two for the work, and " the Ijcrins were filled up with a triangle 
of earth," to prevent the enemy creeping up the slopes and 
firing into the loop-lioles. Attention was also paid to providing 
the troops with sufficient sustenance and the means of defence 
for a fortnight. AVatcr was obtained from a cask sunk in the 
centre of the stockade, and an ample supply of loaded shells 
was procured from a foundry in the neighbourhood, to roll down 
the mountain should the enemy attempt to pass at its base, or 
to hurl into the ditch should he assail the garrison. The stock- 
ades were also provided with small ordnance when the situation 
reniired a more powerful armament.'' 

1 lie fifth, seventh, and eighth companies, second battalio:., 
and detachments of the sixth and seventh couipanies, first 
battalion, were present .it the siege of San Sebastian from lin 
11th July to the 8th September. The second company, second 
battalion, joined there on the 20th August from England, and 
was the first company in the corps that appeari-d in the scarlet 
uniform. All the men composing it had been instructed at 
Chatham, and w^-re d<>risive]y styled " Pasley's cadets." The 
greatest number at the siege counted five Sul)-Lieutenants — 
OJratton, Stratton, Turner, Wallace, and Johnson, and 305 non- 
commissioned officers and men. The eighth ci.'ipany, second 
battalion, with Lieutenant Turner, was posted on the C'-ofrc 
hills, and the other companies on the isthmus. The men were 
divided into three reliefs ; each relief was on duty eight hours, 
but when the works required to be pressed, the periods of rest 
were shortened to meet the emergency. The sub-lieutenants 
acted as assistant engineers. A large party (>f the corps did 
duty in the park, and t'le remainder were employed as overseers 
of X\w working parties. Tlie^ also had to place the gabions, 
fascines, platforms, &c., open and repair the embrasures, jaid 
execute all services requiring more than ordinary skill, such as 
commencing the saps and leading their progress. In the early 

* Manuscript, IJojal Engineer Establishment. The model in the Model Hoom 
at Hrompton, showing the details of one of the stockades, was made under the 
direction of Sub-Lieutenant Ciilder. 




part of the siege the batteries and communications were wholly 
constructed by the sai)pers ; but from the 16th July, these 
services, except ii occasional instances of difficulty and danger, 
were performed by the line. 

In both assaults parties of the corps assisted in carrying and 
placing the ladders for the stormers ; others bore axes, crowbars, 
and intrenching tools. In the second assault it is recorded, that 
the party with ])ick3 and shovels "long persevered, with cool 
intrepidity, to form cover on the face of the breaches, but in 
vain." The assault, however, ultimately succeeded. As well 
in the trenches as ^t the stormings, the sappers and miners 
distinguished themselves by their usefulness, intelligence, and 

Here may be given a little incident to show how cool were 
the sapjHjrs in carrying on their duties. Colonel Pasley has 
stated that " several of the cmbra'^ures of the breaching battery 
were cut in broad daylight, under fire, by a party of the corps 
under Lieutenant E. Matson, 11. E., after the guns in a part of 
the battery previously finished, had actually opened against the 

Another instance is equally worthy of notice. " At (me time," 
according to Major Reid, "the trunk of a lavy,' piij)lar tree 
completely stopped the progress of the men and defied all their 
efforts to move it, until a daring sapper fraliantly j\nnping from 
the trench, stood exposed until lie moved it from the head of 
the sap, and returned without bein"' wounded."" 

Striking instiinces of individujil ex])loit follow, which are 
creditable to the soldiers wlio.-^e names are associated with their 
performance. Sergeants William Powis and John Davis ac- 
companied the first aijsault. Forced down the breach with the 
retreating stonners, iliey perceived Captain G. (t. Lewis, K.E., 
lying badly woundet. exposed to the eni'my's fire ; and Davis, 

' Sir Thomas Graham, in ' Wt'llingtoii Dispatches,' vi., p. Cin, edit. IS-tf). 
Jones's ' Sieges,' ii., p. 391, 2nd edit. : and I'asley's ' IClementary Fortification,' 
note D, p. ix., vol. 1. 

" Pasley 's 'Operations ol'r Siege,' ii., p. '24(i, note. 

" 'Instructions for the Defence of Fortresses,' tnin.slaled liy Major licid, 
H.K., IS'i.'t. p. '2(1, 




wlu) but a ffw niomonts bot'orc bad bcoii wouiulcd in tbo ami, 
rotunied witli Powi?; to tlic brcacb and carrliul off thoir officer to 
the trenches. In eflPectinir this gallant and Innnane act, Davis 
was a second time struck by a musket-bal', through which he 
lost an eye. l?y ^fajor Pa>ley he was reported to bo " a man 
of extraordinary merit and altilities, and a must s! ilfid and 
ingenious artificer."" 

No k'ss distinguished was private Ilugli Borland at the 
second storming. In jilaeiuii' his ladders lie discovered that 
they were likely to become useless, from the joints being inse- 
cure, and while 'n the act of binding the ends tivr.'lier witii his 
braces — an act of supererogation which the sci .ice scarcely 
contemplated — a ball pierced the root of his tongue and killed 

Santa Clara, a rocky island off St. Sebastian, liad l)een taken, 
and it was necessary to connnunicate with the officer of engi- 
neers there on a matter of great importance. It being broad 
daylight, no l)oat could venture across the bay without the 
certainty of being sunk. Corporal Tliomas Evans therefore 
volunteered to execute tin' s( i'\ice. lie immediately stripped 
himself, tied his cap round his neck with tlu> des])atch in it, and 
pbniging into the !-treani, ])erfornied, under fire from the castle, 
tiiis gallant exjiioit unscathed. The distance to tlie island was 
nearly a mile, and he retiu-ned with an answer in about an hour. 

Tiie casualties at tlu^ siege were as follows : — 

At till' soi'tiu — diK' killed; private .lames Ilieks: tliree taken prisoners," 

one ot'wlKiiii, private Owen CiiniKir, was Homideil. 
Ill tlie treiK'lies — four l.ilieil; seeond-eiirpiirals Fiiidlay MeDmiald and 

Daniel Nililiiek, and privates 'Clioma'^ PenlmrwcKid and I'eler Milne; 

Siil)-l/ieutc'ii!int Turn r, wcninded. 
First stiHiii -five killed ; privates Sainiiil Clarke, .lames Diiiiii. 

Cdruiaek, .Tiinatliaii Millar, and .lanus Morris; one died of wounds, 

private Stiplieii 'I'eail'. 
.Second storm— four killed; socond-eorporal Henry Logan, privates I'eler 

Walsli. .lolin Flannafian, and IIujili I'orland: t»venty-nine wounded, 

111 wlioiii one died, seeond-coriioral William Doilds. 

" From his perfect knowledge of the duties of field engiueeriiif;, he was 
known amoii).' liis comrades liy the title of "Sap Major." 

Coriioial ''liarirs Ford was one of the prisoners. lie was of a respectahle 




Correct particulars of the woiiiidcd from the opeuiiig of the 
o])erations until the; last assault cannot be obtained. The three 
prisoners taken at th(> sortie were returned to the corp.s on th(> 
8th Sej)teniber. yot allowed, during their confuii'iiient, to tluow 
up cover for their own safety, they were exposed in the castle, in 
the yard of the magazine, to all the fury of the siege. 

On the removal of the troops from St. .Sebastian, the fifth 
company, second hattidion, was left at the fortress. Under the 
orders of Captain i'rank Stanway, royal engineers, it superin- 
tended a liody of .Spanish soldiers in reforming and restoring 
the fortilications. 'J'he company continued so emj)loyed for 
nearly five months after the abdication of Napoleon, and re- 
turned to Woolwich in September, IHll. 

The rcmaininijr fiiur coni])nnies moved with Lord Welling- 
ton's army, lia\ing in charge the stores and mutrrld of the 
department. ( )n tlie arrival of the jiontoon train at Passages, a 
strong detaclnuent of tiie cor})s was j)laced under the direction 
of lai'utenant Piper, R.E., to assist in the formation of the 
required bridges. 

In the pas.-iage of the Bidassoa on the 7tli October, the 
sappei-s threw a {.ontoon bridge across the river near Irun. It 
wa.s soon afterwards carried away by the tide ; but, on being 
recovered, was speedily re[»laced. 

About three miles higher up the river, at the foot of the 
l^yrenees, they also constructed a trestle bridge with a roadway 

t'amilj-, ami hail a lirot'.UT a clcr;;) man in tlir ( Imrcli of p'.nglaiiil, presidinf; 
ovor till' oiuv of tliu parish of Killu'aooiity in Ireland. In an article in the 
' United Service .lourual,' headed, " Captivity in San Sebastian," Captain Harry 
Jopes, IM';., who also had been taU 'ii prisoner, allndes to this noii-coniniis- 
sioned olHcer. " In tlie eonrse of the day," he says, " I was asked whether I 
wonld like to speak to a corporal of sappers, who had been made a prisoner 
dnrini; the sortie. I was deliglite<l at the prospect of seeinfi one of rriy old 
friends, hut was greatly astonislied, in tlie afternoon, by seeinji a fine tall jouiig 
iiiaii, a stran}:er, walking into the ward, dressed in a r .1 jacket, lie was the 
first sapper 1 liail seen in the new uniform, as blue was the colour worn when 
I was taken prisoner. I'pon ini|uiriii^r when lie joined the army from Kng- 
land. lie replied, ' Yesterday morning. I was put on duty in the trenches last 
nif^lit, aud was shortly afterwards brought into the town by the enemy.' "— 
• I nited Se.'viee .limrnal,' 1, IS41, p. I'.tS. 




of sleepers, covered by fascines and earth, under Captain 
Dickens, R.E. This bridge also was washed away by the 
violence of the current, and with it privates Owen (Jonnor and 
John Nowlan, who at the time, were under the su])erstructure, 
fasti iing ropes from the land to the trestles to give stability to 
the bridge. Both these intrejid bridgemen, after a hard 
struggle, gained the shore. 

The second company, second battalion, under Captain Pitts 
of the corps, was present in the action at Vera, and after- 
wards threw up a line of breastworks at the gorge of one of the 
passes through the mountains, and constructed several other 
works about the position. 

At the battle of Nivelle, on the T'ih of November, the four 
companies above mentioned wer. present but not actively 
engaged. Two or three small j.i.ties of the corps, however, 
had the honour of leading a strong force of the 27th regiment 
to the storming of a strong redoubt, under Lieutenant (Jeorge 
West, 11.10. They took with them long sand-l)ags, filled at 
the instant with fern, which they threw into the ditch ; and 
jumping upon tliem, sprang to the parajjct and entered the 
redoubt. Lance-corporal Edward Councill of the corps, led 
one of tlie detachments to the stonii and dashed into the; works 
witli the foremost soldier, who was a sergeant of the 27th 

On the 11th November the second company, second battalion, 
threw a trestle bridge across the Nivelle, below Sarre, con- 
structed from materials obtained from a farmhous(>, under the 
direction of Captain Pitts and Sub-Lieutenant Stratton, 

The seventh company, second Ivittalion, being detaclied to 
iM ...,.., to arrange the hawser bridge for the j)a.ssage of the 
Adour, the tln-ee remaining companies were present at the 
battle of the Nive, and the actions in Front of Bayonne, from 
the 9th to lotii December. I'or tiie passage of the mrpH 
(Turnu'e under Marshal Bercsford and Sir Rowland Hill, the 
companies threw two bridges at Ustaritz, and repaired the shat- 
tered arches of anotlier bridge at that place and one at Canibo. 
'i'iie first bridge tin-own was made of pontoons under Captain 




Boteler, R.E., in which priv..te William Dowling distinguished 
himself by gallantly swin.ming across the river with the sheer 
line, and securing it to a picket on the enemy's side. When 
striking home his stake, he drew the fire of some French senti- 
nels upon hini, but returned unhurt. The second bridge resting 
ujjon eleven bays, was made by the second company, second 
battalion, under Sub-Lieutenant Stratton, directed by Captain 
Henderson, R.E., and formed from chance materials collected 
in the wood and the village. During the operations, another 
bridg": wii^s thrown by the sapjjci-s over a deep stream with a 
rapid current, beyond the Nive, and was formed of wine pipes 
and barrels, strengthened by two skiffs or chasse-marees, with a 
hastily-prepared nwdway laid upon them. 

Previous to the battle a few expert swimmers were selected 
to find the fords of the Nive, and to note the exact rising and 
falling of the tides. Corporal Alexander .Tamieson and private 
William Braid found the three I'ords near (Jauibo. In the 
passage of the troops these two men, by appointment, guided 
the columns of Generals Byiig and Barues across the stream ; 
and for their coolness and steadiness in executing the service, 
were rewarded by the Generals. The former received two 
doubloons, the latter one. 

The four companies with the army were reinforced ir No- 
vember, by forty-nine men under (.'a])tain English, royal 
engineers, from Englanil. On the 3()th of the month, the 
total number in the south of France, at St. Sebastian, and 
Alicant, reached six sub-lieutenants and about 500 non-com- 
missioned officers and men. The niunber sick in the difi^'crent 
hospitals anuiunted to between sixty and seventy. Tlie 
casualties during the y(>ar were, killed fifteen, deaths Uiiity- 
three, missing five, and iiiviilidt'd tlii teen. The li('ad-(['un'ters 
of the companies with Lord Wellington's army, were at C'and)o, 
Ustaritz, and St. Jean de Luz, but the men were j^reatly dis- 
persed and variously employed, in making redoubts, batteries, 
and entrenchments, and in the pre|)aration of uif.terials and 
appliaiici's for the formation of bridges. 


IllS'l'Oin' OF THE 


Durin- the year the n-cTuiting was carrica on with -n-at 
spu-it The uuinbor rocolved by oulistmeut vva>. 4.31, ami l.y 
transfer from the n.ilitia 334. Six snh-lie«tenants, one sergcant- 
maior, and 144 non-eonnnissioned officers and men wore eni- 
ploved on this service in the United Kingdom and Ireland 
The c.rps now counted a t..tal strength of 2,373, leaving still 
to complete it to the establishment 484 men. 





Wreck of 'Queen' transport; humanity of Sergeant Mackenzie; heroic ex- 
ertions of private M'Carthy — Quartermaster; Brigade-Major — Snntona ; 
useful Services of corporal Hay — Hridge of Itzassu nejir Cambo — Orthes; 
conduct of sergeant Stephens — Toulouse — Hridge of the Adour ; duties of 
the sappers — Flotilla lo form the bridge— Casualties in venturing the bar — 
Cond\ict of the corps in its construction — Hayonne — Expedition to North 
America — Keturn to England of certain companies from the Peninsula — 
Company to HollauJ ; its duties ; bridge over the Maerk ; Tholeu ; Fort 
Frederick — March for Antwerp -Action at Merxam — Esprit de corps — 
Coolness of sergeant Stevens and corporal Milburn — Distribution ; bridge 
making — Surprise of Bergcn-op-Ziiom — Conduct of the sappers, and casual- 
ties in the operation — A mild Irisluiian — Hravery of corporal Creighton and 
private Lomas — South HevelanO — Heinforcement to the Netherlands — 
Keview by the Emperor of Russia— School for companies at Antwerp — De- 
tachments in the Netherlands, company at Tournai — Movements of the com- 
pany in Italy and Sicily — Expedition to Tuscany ; party to Corfu — Canada ; 
distribution of company there, and its active services — Reinforcement to 
(Canada — Washington, Baltimore, New Orleans — Notice of coi'poral Scrafield 
— Expedition to the State of Maine. 

Late in December, 1813, sergeant Richard Mackenzie with 
six invalids and their wives and chiklren, embarked at Lisbon 
on l)()ard the ' (ineen ' transport. Separated dnring a tempest 
from th(! convoy, the vessel, after a dangerous passage, arrived 
off Falmouth, and entering the harbour, anchored at about 
half a mile from the shore to await a fair wind to sail for 
Portsmouth. On the 1 ith of January, at night, a violent stonn 
arose ; and early next morning, the sliip, snapping her cable 
and parting her anchor, drifted on the rocks oft' Trefusis Point 
near lalmouth. Tlu; unabated severity of the wind kept the 
vessel constantly bumping upon the rocks, and in a short time 
the ' Queen ' broke aniiiisiiips. As long as practicable the 
(•.ri!w and passengers clung to the gunwaU; and rigging, but the 
long-boat being at last disengaged, mmibers crowded into it. 
VOL. r. p 




Sergeant Mackenzie was about the last wlio entered it ; and 
even then, though the chance of life was hanging upon tlie 
proinj)t effort of the moment, he cauglit up a poor orj)han boy 
shivering from cold and fright, and pushing him into the vessel 
first, followed after, and wedged himself in the bow of the boat. 
Without rudder or oars, the boat, scarcely able to hold the 
weight she bore, drifted to sea. Masses of the wreck floated 
about her and beat against her sides. Shock succeeding 
shock soon loosened her timbers, and the bottom giving way, 
the human freightage was cast into the sea. In less than two 
hours, out of 33G souls, 195 were lost Two of the number 
with three women and their children, belonged to the party of 
sappers. One was private James M'CJarlhy, who iiad gained 
the shore on a fragment of the wreck, and j)lunging into the 
sea again, perished in an heroic attempt to save the wife of a 

The commissions of Adjutant and Quartermaster, hitherto 
held by one officer, were separated in February ; and quarter- 
master-sergeant James Galloway was pronu)ted to be Quarter- 
master from the 1st of that month, with the pay of Hs. a-day, 
and 18^. 58. a year for a servant, llio diess and appointments 
were assimilated to those of the subaltern officers of royal 
engineers, with the excejjtion of the head-dress, which was a 
cocked-hat, plumed with flowing cock-tail feathei-s. On the 
20th of December following, the Adjutant, (Ja])tain Rice Jones, 
was advanced to the staff appointment of Brigade-Major ; 
which rank lias ever since been borne by tlie chief executive 
officer of the corjis. 

After the jiassage of the Bidassoa, Captain AVelis, with 
two men of the eighth company second battalion, marched 
to Santona to co-operate with the Gallican, or fourth Spanish 
army, under General Barco. The historian of the Peninsular 
war has stated, that Home sjipjjers and miners were sent to 
quicken the operations of the Spanisii oflicei-s, but a French 
writer, erring l)eyond all excuse, has magnified the tivo men 
into a ivhi'h' battalion.' Under tiieir captain, they superin- 
' Naputr's ' Pciiiiisiilai' War.' vi., p r)(i2, odit. IS4(I. 

1814. i 



tciidod tlic prosecution of various field-works ; and on account 
of his usefulness and intellifrence, lance-corporal Hay was 
styled assistant engineer. Several villages in the vicinity 
of Santona were called upon to supply a certain number of 
scaling ladders for the oi)eration, iind corporal Hay, furnished 
with authority from General Barco, visited those localities, su- 
perintended the making of the ladders, and had them conveyed 
to the park. Both the sappei"s were present in the escalade of 
the fort of Puntal on the 13th February, and at the storming 
of the town and fort of Laredo on the 21st. Tiiroujjhout the 
operations, corporal Hay was particularly noticed for his ability 
and zeal. Santona ultimately capitulated, and the two sappers 
rejoined their company in front of Bayonne. 

Early in January ten artificers of the seventh company, first 
battidion, assisted by fifty S[)anlsh soldiers, threw a very efficient 
bridge across a loop of the river Nive at Itzassu near ('ambo, 
under the direction of Sub-LieutenaTit Calder. The bridge 
was constructed by order of General Hill at the request of the 
Spanish General Morlllo, to establish a communication with 
the rear and a brigade of his division which had not crossed 
the stream. A ferry had formerly existed at the spot by 
means of a small canoe which the enemy, in his retreat, had 
taken the precaution to sink. It was recovered by the sapjjors 
and turned to advantage in the operation. The site chosen 
for the bridge was accessible cand convenient, being directly in 
rear of the diviislon. For some distance along the shore the 
north side had a perpendicular face, high and craggy with 
projecting ledges ; whilst the oj)})osite shore was low and 
shinirly, and Inundated in wet weather. The bed of the river 
was rocky and uneven, showing such abrupt varlfitions in its 
level, that piles or trestles could not be used for the formation. 
In some places the depth was 15 feet ; In others not more than 
4 or 5. Boats or craft of any kind could not be procured, and 
the expedient of a bridge of cjisks was therefore resorted to. 

Barrels for the purpose — four feet long by two feet at the 
swell — were oi)taini'd from a wine manufactory in the village ; 
chestnut planking, nails and bolts from different houses ; trees 






from tlic luljaroiit ])laiitiiti()U9 to form tlu" fniniowork and sliori' 
j)il('s; and l)Mrs of iron j:;Tatin<j, taken from tlic vanlts of a 
country clun-cliyard, were convi-rtcd into a cliiiiu of 2<)-ini'li 
links, and stretched across the river. This chain was fastened 
at one hank to a hujje frajrnient of rock, hronpht from a 
distance hy means of a hastily-constructed sh'djfe ; and at tlie 
otlier it was held (irmly hy one of the ordinary nu-thoda. The 
nutnhcr of casks emj)loyed in the forination were thirty-five, 
arrantred in live floats or ))iers of sev(>u each, two piers heinjr 
lashed together at each end of tlu; raft, IH feet from either 
shore, and one in tiie centre with a space between of 12 fe<!t 
from either float. The piers were fixed in strong cradles or 
frames, and by simple connections each maintained a reciprocal 
hearing upon the other. From the low or south shore the 
raft was aj)proached by a jetty 120 feet in length, resting on 
young trees driven into the soil in a double row, 8 feet wide 
and 10 feet asunder ; and from the other hy a wide givngway 
supported on a sunken rock, which was heightened to the 
required altitude by a pier of stout masonry built at the moment. 
'J'he superstructure consisted of ])lanks secured to frames, and 
also to baulks longitudinally hiid on the floats ; and when all 
was comi)leted, the bridge was held in position by means of 
poles, H feet in length, running from the j/iers and Unking to 
small double chains, which again were mot)red to tiie great 
chain cable by a series of stout hanger hooks. The slopes to 
the raft at each end were easy and natural, and contrivances 
were effected which pennitted the bridge to ride with the tide 
without disarrangement. On both sides a hand-rail wtis j)laced 
for the convenience of the troops, which gave it a neat and 
finished appearance ; and though executed with the hurry which 
a pressing movement demanded, it was so firmly put together 
that it fulfilled in every respect the objects of its construction, 
without even sustaining a break from the force of the current 
or fury of the storni.^ 

" Miuiiisoript, Itoyal FJnginecr Establisliini'nt. The details of the construc- 
tion of this bridge have been eonsideied sufficiently interesting to be preserved 
in a model at the royal engineer estaMishnient at L'liathani, 






Tliu aliovn ('oiii|)fiiiy witli its siih-lii-utoiiaut, iiiul tin; I'i^rlitli 
coiiipiiiiy, second iKittarum, struck caiiii) in I'cltruary and moved 
forward witli tlio army. Tlic fornicr company was attac^lied to 
tlic column under Sir Rowland Hill, and tlit; latter to Marshal 
Hcresford's. Both companies, nnndx'rinjr 130 of all ranks, 
were present at the battle of Orthes on the 27th of February, 
but their services in the action were of little importance. A 
])ortion of tiie companies beinj^ attached to the ])ontoon train, 
assisted to re-establish the ruined bridye of Herenx durinjr the 
niylit of the 2t')th ; and on the 27th, a small party inider 
8er<>eant Thomas Stephens, who had distinj^uished liimself in the 
demolition of the flood-<rates at l'"lushin<r, destroyed a barricade 
in front of a bridge which led into the town of Orthes. In this 
little rencontre, sergeant Niuian Melville and private Samuel 
Needham wen; wouiuIimI, the latter mortally. 

These eoinj)anies, still attached to the advancing army, 
aided in forming the several pontoon and flying bridges 
re(iuired for the ])assage of the troops, both on the march frouj 
Orthes and just before the battle of Toulouse. In this action, 
fought on the 10th of April, the two companies were present, 
but were not reijuired to perform any servlee worthy of especial 

During the winter of 1.S13, the seventh com])auy, second 
battalion with Sub-Lieutenant Wallace, was detached to St. 
Jean de Luz to prepare a bridge for the passage of the Adour ; 
and early in January, Sub-Lieutenant Stratton with the 
second company, second battalion, was sent to Socoa to hasten 
its completion. These comj)anies with the artificers of the 
guards and staff corjjs, and large j)arties of the royid navy, 
worked incessantly at the undertaking under the direction of 
the engineers.^ 

In the middle of February, the necessary apparatus and 
stores being ready and eery jjreliminary arrangement com- 
pleted, the greater part of the two companies were shipj)ed on 
board the cliasse-mar«^es, intended to form the bridge. In two 

.loiies's ' Sii'pis, ii., p. Iii7. ■-'iid edit. 


'V^. --.T-i 









21 12.5 














WEBSTER, N.Y. 14580 

(716) 872-4503 







vessels six sappers were embarked, in others three, but the 
majority carried only two, who were destined to cut " away the 
wa ■ *e boards to render the deck level, and also to spike down 
the timber, prepared with grooves to receive the cables, the 
moment the vessels should \ye moored." * 

On the night of the 22nd, the flotilla put to sea and en- 
countered some stormy weather on the passage. In the after- 
noon of the 24th it neared the Adour, when the sea, tossed 
into foaming waves by a driving gale, wore an aspect of 
peculiar danger. A high and angry surf being on the bar and 
the tide furious, many of the native crews ran below in terror 
and refused to navigate their boats. Several fell on their knees 
and spent much of their energy in earnest devotion. At 
length, urged to their duty by the angry threats of the en- 
gineers and sappers, most of the masters yielded a reluctant 
but desperate submission, and steering into the channel, one 
vessel after another cut through the frightful breakers and soon 
gained the position chosen for the bridge. 

This hazardous service was not accomplished without loss to 
the sappers. In an instant, one vessel was engulphed on the 
bar, and second-corporal Patrick Power and private John 
M'Knight, perished. Another vessel had safely outridden the 
surf, but was overtaken by an uverwhclming wave that dashed 
her to pieces. In this wreck, corporal James Gorman and pri- 
vate William Bunn were washed to the shore, and after several 
hours' insensibility and exposure to cold, reached their company 
in a miserable plight, the next morning. 

In forming the bridge, the chasse-marees were anchored 
head and stem, about 30 feet apart ; and as soon as the wash- 
boards were cut away and the grooved timbers spiked to the 
decks, the cables were stretched across the vessels from shore to 
shore, and the planks or superstructure quickly lashed to them. 
On the right bank of the river, the ends of the cables were 
secured to some 18-pounder guns half buried in the marsh ; and 
on the left bank were hauled taut by mechanical ingenuity. 

JoiK-s's 'Sieges,' p. 109, 



21. I 

From the violent heaving of the vessels it was unsafe to fix the 
planks in the intervals between them, but there were not want- 
ing men who thought less of the danger than the prompt execu- 
tion of the service. With skill equal to their assiduity, the 
companies laboured in completing the bridge, even working 
throughout the night, and the structure was fully ready for the 
passage of the troops on the 2(5th of February.' The boom was 
laid by the navy and completed soon after the bridge. 

Admiral Penrose, in his despatch of 25th February, thus 
notices the services of the sappers, "That so many chasse- 
marecs ve.itureci the experiment, I attribute to their having 
been one or moi e sappers placed in each of them, and a captain 
and eight lieutenants of engineers commanding them in divi- 
visons." ° The Admiral further stated, " that the sapjwrs not 
only proved themselves good soldiers, but intrepid seamen."' 
Major Todd of the royal staff corps, who assisted in planning 
the bridge, informed the author of the ' Peninsular War,' " that 
he found tiie soldiers, with minds quickened by the wider range 
and variety of knowledge attendant on their service, more 
ready of resource, and their efforts, combined by a more regular 
discipline, of more avail, with less loss of time, than the irre- 
gular activity of the seamen." " Honourable mention is also 
made by the great historian of the intrepidity of the sappers ; 
and in winding up his remarks ujwn the operation, he writes, 
" this stupendous undertaking must always rank amongst the 
prodigies of war."" 

The subsequent charge of the bridge being confided to the 
royal staff' corps under Major Todd, the two companies of 
sappers were removed to Bayonne to take part in the siege. 
Including the second company fourth battalion with sub- 
lieutenant Millar under Captain Blansli.-'.rd, R.E., which arrived 
from Portsmouth in the 'Warren' tr.insport, and landed at 

* JoDvg'8 ' Sieges," ii., p. 118, 2nd edit. As a reward for tlii'ir services, most 
of the men that belonged to the tlotilla received a guinea and a pair of shoes. 
' Jones's ' Sieges,' ii., p. 117, 'ind edit. 
' Colonel Hurry U. Jones, royal engineers. 
■* Napier's ' Peninsular War,' vi., p. .142, edit. 1840. 
» Ibid., p. .')43. 




Passages on the 16th xMarch, the royal engineers had collected 
for the blockade four sub-lieutenants — Wallace, Gratton, 
Stratton, and Millar — and a body of nearly four hundred 
well-trained sappers and miners,'" who were chiefly employed 
as overseers in conducting the execution of the required field- 
works, A strong party was on duty in the trenches when tiie 
sortie was made from the citadel on the night of the 14th April, 
but no casualties among the men were reported. Throughout 
the operations the sappers and miners, from their skill and 
exertions, gave the highest satisfaction to their officers. 

At Bayonne the last blow of the war was struck ; for as soon 
as the news of Napoleon's abdication had arrived, hostilities 
ceased. In May the five companies at Bayonne and Toulouse 
marched from their respective cantonments to Blanquefort and 
Bordeaux, where they were encamped for a few weeks awaiting 
the general evacuation of the country. An expedition being 
ordered to proceed to North America, the second company 
fourth battalion embarked with it on the 27th May ; and the 
other four companies, viz., the seventh of the first battalion and 
the second, seventh, and eighth of the second battalion, sailed 
from PouUiac on the 22nd June, and landed at Portsmouth the 
10th and 14th July, leaving fifty-five men sick in France. The 
casualties in these companies for the half year were thirty deaths 
and one missing. 

The sixth company second battalion was removed to Italy in 
April. The sixth company first battalion from Cadiz, and the 
fifth company second battalion from St. Sebastian, sailed from 
Spain the latter end of August, and arrived at Woolwich early 
in September. These two companies were with the last troops 
which left the Peninsula after the close of the war. 

The fourth company second battalion, counting eighty-two 
men, with Sub-Lieutenant T. Adamson under Captain R. 
Tiiomson, left Margate with the expedition under Sir Thomas 
Graham, and landed at Wi'liamstadt the 18th December, 1813. 
There the company suffered loss by the accidenUil burning of the 
barracks in which it was quartered. After removing the stores 
'" Jones's ' yicgfs,' ii., p. 12(1, 2iu\ edit. 




from the shipping, parties were employed in preparing fascines 
and gabions, in bridge-making, constructing a landing place of 
faggots for the disembarkation of the cavalry, and in removing 
the platforms and heavy mortars from the ramparts at William- 
stadt for carriage to Merxam. 

These services being accomplished, the cnmpany was dis- 
tributed to Klundert, Groat Zundert, Zandaarbuiten, Tholen, 
Steenbergen, and Fort Frederic near Lillo. Among other 
duties the detachment at Zandaarbuiten formed, in a very 
expeditious manner, a bridge of country-boats over the river 
Maerk under two young lieutenants of engineers, which served 
for the conveyance of the heaviest artillery. The boats were 
of different shapes and sizes, collected for the occasion, and the 
materials for the superstructure were of irregular scantling, 
partly collected in the neighbourhood and partly foiled on the 
spot." At Tholen a corporal and eight men under Lieutenant 
Eyre, R.E., attached to the Prussians, built a battery on the 
bank of the river for the protection of a flying bridge ; and at 
Fort Frederic a party restored a battery for two guns, which 
afterwards held an unequal contest with a French eigbty-four 
gun ship, and prevented her proceeding to Bergen-op-Zoom 
with provisions. No less than forty-one, including the com- 
mander, were killed and wounded on boa:d the man-of-war, 
while the casualties at the battery only a>aounted to one killed 
and two wounded. 

Leaving sixteen men at Tholen and Zandaarbuiten, the 
remainder of the company, armed with short swords, felling- 
axes, saws, &C., and guarding an establishment of mules 
drawing about one hundred waggons laden with " itrenching 
tools, commenced the march for Antwerp. They followed 
the royal artillery, and reliefs of twenty men were, by turns, 
repeatedly ordered to the front to remove abattis and other 
obstructions that were met with on the route. From intense 
frost and a heavy and continuous fall of snow blowing in their 
faces, they encountered many difficulties and suffered extremely 
during the journey. 

" Pasley'b ' Elumentary FortificiUiou,' uotc c, p. viii., vol, 1. 




Merxam being taken on the 2nd February the company 
and a strong force of the guards and line, began the erection 
of batteries to attack the fleet at Antwerp. By command, no 
relief was permitted to the sappers, and they continued on duty 
for seventy-two hours without intermission. Their steady 
labours at the Napoleon battery of sixteen guns, and their skill 
in revetting the embrasures, and in attending to the more 
perilous parts of Lhe works, were the wonder of both officers and 
soldiers. Sir Thomas Graham, in general orders dated Merxam, 
5th February, did full justice to the zeal and exertions of the 
sappers, and stated, " that they deserved the highest praise." 
Two privates were wounded.'^ 

Sergeant William Stevens and corporal Thomas Milbum 
distinguished themselves by their coolness and bravery in 
superintending the laying of platforms and making a splinter- 
proof magazine under a heavy fire. Recommended by Colonel 
Carmichael Smyth, the commanding royal engineer, the former 
was forthwith appointed colour-sergeant, and soon afterwards 
commissioned to a sub-lieutenancy in the corps ; and the latter 
was promoted to be sergeant. 

After the failure at Antwerp, the head-quarters of the com- 
pany went into cantonments at Rosendaal, and parties were 
detached to Groat Zundert, Fort Ilenrick, Calrathout, Eschen, 
and Brieschaet. At Groat Zundert seven men under corporal 
James Hilton conducted some experimental bridging in the 
presence of Sir Thomas Graham and Colonel Carmichael 
Smyth, with the view of adopting the easiest plan for crossing 
ditches in future enterprises. Sir Thomas was struck with the 
simplicity of the corporal's arrangement and the rapidity of 

" Here 18 a practical exemplification of esprit de corps. Whilst engaged in 
the attempt to destroy the shipping in the basin of Antwerp, his lioyol High- 
ness Prince William frequently visited the Napoleon battery with several 
military officers. On one of those visits a mounted veteran in the suite of the 
Prince approached private John Brennan, and said, "Sapper, will you hold 
this horse for an old guardsman?" Brennan, who was very busy at the time 
with bis shovel, turned his face towards the officer, and feeling that as a sapper 
he wos two or three removes above a groom, replied, " Egad, sir, I'd sooner be 
shot layin' saud-bags." 




its execution ; and as a proof of his approbation gave him a 

On another occasion, that distinguished general took parti- 
cular interest in the formation of a ditch bridge and even 
laboured himself in its construction. From the unevenness of 
the banks the baulks did not lie firmly. Private James McKay 
was in the act of obtaining the desired steadiness, when Sir 
Thomas took a spare spade, cut some sods, and assisting to 
j)lace them in the required positions, only gave up when the 
work was satisfactorily accomplished. 

In the surprise of Bergen-op-Zoom on the 8th March, parties 
of the company were attached to each of the columns appointed 
for the attack. There were about forty men in all, who were 
provided with axes, saws, and crowbars, and also a few ladders 
to scale the walls of the fortress. At about half-past ten 
o'clock the attack was made. The sappers cut down the 
palisades, crossed the ditches, planted the ladders, and leading 
the way in the escalade, were the first soldiers on the enemy's 
ramparts. They then pushed forward to remove any obstacle 
that opposed the advance of the assailants, and persevered in 
their several duties till the place was captured. A reverse, 
however, awaited the British : the enemy renewed the attack 
with unwonted vigour, and in a few hours regained the fortress. 
During these extraordinary operations the following casualties 
occurred in the detachment : Sub-Lieutenant Adamson was 
killed by a cannon-ball on the glacis when advancing. About 
twelve were wounded, of whom two mortally — privates John 
McKeer and James Munro — and ten were tJiken prisoners, and 
conveyed to Fynaart, but shortly afterwards released. Of the 
conduct of the sappers in this coup-de-main Colonel Cannichael 
Smyth has left it on record, that the company conducted them- 
selves with the utmost coolness and courage, and the Master- 
General, in a letter dated 2nd April, wsis pleased to express 
himself highly satisfied with the zealous conduct of the Royal 
Sappers and Miners on the above occasion.'* 

'" The gentle Brennaii, about whom an anerdote is told in a previous 
page, very reluctantly quitted the ramparts. Fiudiuir, that to save himself, 




The gallant behaviour of corporal James Creighton and 
private Edward Lomas is deserving of notice. After breaking 
through a palisade on the ramparts, they dashed forward and 
were challenged by a vigilant sentinel, who fired and shot 
Lomas in the thigh and then charged Creighton. Creighton 
parried the bayonet witli his axe, ami, seizing the Frenchman's 
musket, a desperate struggle ensued. The sentinel, who was 
a powerful man, at length threw his antagonist violently to the 
ground, and stamping his Toot on his breast, endeavoured to 
wrest the firelock from the corporal's grasp. His strength 
spent, Creighton could scarcely maintain the contest, when 
Lomas, yet bleeding from his wound, rushed to the rescue of 
his comrade and struck the Frenchman with a j)ole-axe on the 
back of his head. The blow was fatiil. Lomas now armed 
himself with the musket and ammunition of the sentinel, and 
pressing forward into the fortress, his resolution and daring 
were further signalized by his killing two other Frenchmen, and 
wounding two more. The latter he delivered over as prisoners 
of war to sergeant Thomas Milburn of the company, first break- 
ing their muskets in their presence, and then dispossessing them 
of their accoutrements.'* Corporal Creighton followed Lomas 
in the adventure, but was too much fatigued and weakened to 
be of material service. 

Soon after the reverse at Bergen-op-Zoom, the great'jr part 

retreat was inevitable, he turned his back on the fortress, and with a scowl, 
such only as an Irishman could make, growled out, " 13ad luck to the whole 
ov yees!" With this mild curse, so unusual in a hut-headed, free-spoken 
Milesian, he scampered down the ladder, escaped without wound or touch, and 
finally halted, still breathing the anathema, " Had luck to the whole ot yees I" 
The incident is only remarkable for its freedom fi'om those horrible epithets 
and curses so common in Irish execrations. Rrennan was applauded for his 
bravery at the storming by Captain Hobert Thomson, and his subsequent 
exertions and constancy in the restoration of the defences of Antwerp and 
Ypres, where he had large parties of Hanoverian troops and Dutch peasants 
under his superintendence, led to his promotion first to lance-corporal and 
then to corporal. 

" Lomas was discharged in I81C by redreti >n, and being a young soldier, 
received no pension. Some thirty years a'ter rards, he applied for a pension, 
and his exploits being btill remembered, he was "ranted Gd. a-day. 




of the company was sent to South Beveland and attached to 
the engineer brigades of (Jnptiiins II. Thomson and Oldfield, to 
be einpU)yed in tlie attack of Fort Ratz. The night that ground 
was to have lieen broken news arrived of peace. The company 
returned into Cxintoninents at Rosendaal, then changed its head- 
quarters to llorst, and in May asseniWcd at Antwerp, where it 
remained, with tlie exception of some small detachments, to the 
end of the year. 

In July another company — fourth of the third battalion — 
under Lieutenant P. ('ole, arrived in that city from Woolwich. 
It was sent there to assist in the demolition of its fortifications 
and arsenal, as, by treaty, it was decided that Antwerp should 
only be a commercial port. On the advice, however, of the 
Duke of Wellington, who inspected that great naval depot on 
his way to Paris, the operations were suspended. 

AVbile stationed at Antwerp both companies were quartered 
in the Hotel de Salm, where the French had established their 
head-quarters and sapper barracks. When the Emperor 
Alexander of Russia visited the city, the two companies were 
turned out with the garrison to receive the Czar, and specially 
attracted his majesty's attention. In September the companies, 
under the command of Captain Oldfield, were inspected at 
Antwerp by Lieutenant-General Clinton, who expressed himself 
highly pleased with their appearance. 

The idea that the sappers should be properly educated, led, 
even in an enemy's country, to the establishment of a school 
for their professional instruction, and they were permitted the 
privilege of assisting their o'^-ers in the preparation of \ ijects 
for the destruction of the docks and several fronts of fortifica- 
tion. The drill too was strictly attended to, and to keep up 
their military spirit and bearing, they were marched two days 
a week into the country, and joined the troops at all garrison 
parades. Captain Oldfield, the resident engineer, commanded 
the companies. 

The strength of the sappers in the Netherlands was now 152. 
The sub-lieutenants belonging to them were James Adam and 
Edward Sandera For several months of the year the parties 




detached were employed at. Lierc, Scliilde, Graven Wesel, 
Brussels, Tournai. and Mons. Subsequently the fourth com- 
pany, third battalion, was wholly removed to Tournai, and 
employed in the repair of the citadel, under the command of 
Captain W. J). Smith. 

The sixth company, second battalion, from Tarragona, with 
Sub-Lieutenant Gibb, landed at Genoa from the ' Mercury ' 
transport on the 4th May; and on the 11th June following 
removed to Messina, leaving a small party at Genoa. Other 
det4ichments were also employed at Savona, Palermo, and Faro. 

Sixteen men of the Maltese company at Palermo were 
attached to Lord William Bentinck's Tuscany expedition, and 
served at Leghorn, Pisa, and Lucca from February to April. 
Li the latter month the company of Maltese sappers at Tarra- 
gona was increased to forty-nine men. Li May, it landed at 
Genoa, and changed its (juarters to Palenno in June, where both 
detachments were incorporated into a company of 110 strong. 
In November seven men of the Maltese sappers were detached 
to Corfu. 

The third company, third battalion, in (^'anada retained its 
head-quarters at Kingston ; but throughout the campaign was 
much dispersed on various important duties to York, Point 
Kerry, Fort Niagara, Snake Island, Montreal, Ganonoque, 
Fort Wellington, Prescott, and Bridge Island. Parties are 
also traced at the attack and burning of Oswego under 
Lieutenant Gossett, and at the assault of Fort Erie under 
Lieutenant Phillpotts. In the latter service they received tiie 
acknowledgments of Lieutenant-Gencral Drummond for their 
ability and exertions. 

A second company — fourth of the fourth battalion — embarked 
for service in Canada in April, and disembarked at Quebec 
from the ' Belfield ' transport in June. In August the com- 
pany was attached to the expedition under Sir George Pre vest, 
and was present at the attack on Plattsburg, where they con- 
structed sand-bag batteries, temporary bridges of felled trees, 
and planted the ladders against the walls for the storm. Sub- 
sequently to the assault, the company removed to Lacolle, and. 






nd of 

pury ' 

after fortifying Ash Island, wintered at Prescott. During 
the campaign parties were detached to Montreal, Cascade- 
Montinorenci, Isle-aux-Noix, Turkey Point, and Bnrtonville. 

(?ai)tain Blanshard's company — second of the fourtli battalion 
— wiiicli sailed from Bayonne on the 27th May, was tran- 
8hii)|)ed in July from the ' Tiiaines ' frigate to the ' Golden 
Fleece ' transport, and landed at Benedict in the Patuxent on 
the lytli August. Marching with the troops, the company of 
sixty-two strong was present in the acticm at Bladensburg on 
the 24th, and had three men taken prisoners, two of whom were 
wounded. At Washington the company was employed in 
burning the Senate-house,'* President's palace, War-Office, 
and other public edifices and establishments. Fully expecting 
that the British wouh. fall, as at Saratoga, a prize to the re- 
public, the President, in the extravagance of bis anticipations, 
had i)reparcd a sumptuous repast to entertain the chiefs of the 
captive British staff; but so singular are the chances of war, 
it fell to the lot of the sappers instead of the staff to do 
justice to the President's hospitality. Afterwards the comjjany 
was present in the action near Baltimore and at the attack of 
New Orleans. In the latter they were joined by the seventh 
company, first battalion, with Sub-Lieutenant Calder under 
Captain A. Emmett, who disembarked from the ' Bedford ' and 
' Maria ' transports. Both companies were of great service 

'•'> Private Henry Scraflcld l>ehayed with spirit in overpowering two armed 
sentinels in tlie Senate-house, and taking them prisoners. A more uncompro- 
misingly independent man perhaps never lived. Once he complained, in a 
petition to George IV., of the conduct of an officer, but it ended without the 
concession of the redress which he unwarrantably sought from His Majesty, 
In February, 1831, he endeavoured to save the lives of five boys who had fallen 
into Mulgrave lieservoir, at Woolwich. An orange had been thrown on the 
ice by some reckless fellow, and the unfortunate youths, scrambling after it, 
fell into the water. Scrafleid was soon on the spot, and at imminent personal 
risk, crossed the broken ice on ladders, and, with ropes and grapnels, succeeded 
in rescuing the poor boys, but not till all life had departei'. The fii'st youth 
was got up in ten minutes after the catastrophe. For his judgment and intre- 
pidity on the occasion he was promoted to be second-corporal, and the lioyal 
Iluniane Society granted him a pecuniary reward. Pensioned in Novembe" , 
1833, he afterwards obtained a lucrative situation on a railway, and died at 
Bletchington, of cholera, in September, 1849. 




during tlic operations and at the assault. The casualties were 
one missing and four wounded — one mortally. 

A i)arty of one colour-aergcant and six men under Captain 
Nicolla, from Halifax, Nova Si-otia, was attached to the expe- 
dition under Sir John Sherbrooke, and served, in August and 
Sei)tember, at tlie capture of Moose Island, Castine, and Belfast, 
in the State of Maine. 




.Siege of Port Hoycr— Alertneiw of company on pnanage to New Orleans — Re- 
turn of the supper* from North America — ServioeH unil movements of com- 
panies in Canada — Also in Nova Seotia Captures of Martinique and 
Giiadah>upe — S, I'-i v. and niovenients of companies in Italy — Maltese tap- 
pers disbanded — I'uy of riul>- Lieutenants — Vpres — Increase to sappers' force 
iu Illtiud; its duties and detachments; notice of sergeant Pnrccll— Re- 
newal of the war— Strengtli of the corps sent to the Netherlands — Pontoneeni 
— Kattle of Waterloo— Disastrous situation of u company in retreating — Ge- 
neral order al>out the alarm and the stragglers - Sergeant-major Hilton at 
Krussels — Notice of lance-cerporal Donnelly — Kxertions '-f another company 
in pressing to the field— Organization of the engineer establishment in 
Prance — Ponto<m train — Magnitude of the engineer establishment; hired 
drivers ; Plemish seamen — Assault of Peronne, valour of Sub-lieutenant 
Stratton and lance-corporal Council!— Pontoon bridges on the Seine — Cor 
duct of corps during the campaign — Corporal Ccombs with the Prussian 
army — UseftalneHS of the sappers in attending to the horses, &c., of the 
department in France — Domiciliary visit to Montmartre. 

I.\ February of this year nine men .^cre present at the siege of 
Fort Boyor, near Mobile, and their services on the occjision have 
been cited as a remarliable proof of the utility of the corps. Sir 
(Charles Pasley thus writes concerning the party : — " The first 
night of the operations soldiers of the line only were employed. 
From a want of skill and experience in the nature of the duties 
required of them, and there being very few engineer officers to 
direct, they collected in groups, instead of being spread out 
as they ought to have been. Consequently, out of one small 
party of twenty men, fourteen were killed and wounded by a 
single discharge of grape-shot ; and s;.ch confusion ensued, that 
very little progress was made in the course of that night. On 
the second night of the siege, the small party of sappers waa 
employed in addition to the troops of the line. By the assist- 
ance of these few men the officers of engineers were enabled 
to regulate their working party to so much advantage, that 
VOL. I. Q 




before morning they had completed a parallel of 200 yards in 
extent within 50 yards of the enemy's works, besides approaches 
in advance, which, being filled with sharpshooters, the Ameri- 
cans were unable to show themselves at their guns, and the 
fort surrendci'cd. It is proper to explain, that as the army 
sailed from the Mississippi in divisions, the main body of the 
royal engineer department had not arrived at the period of 
the attack. The nine men who so particularly distinguished 
themselves happened to be on the spot before the others, be- 
cause, being all carpenters by trade, they had been lent to the 
Admiral to repair the boats of the fleet."' One private was 

After a detention of about six weeks from contrary winds, 
the eighth company, second battalion, with Sub-Lieutenant 
P. Johnston under Captain Harry D. Jones, cleared the 
channel on the 25th December and sailed for New Orleans. 
^Vliile off Madeira, the company was served out with the ser- 
viceable carbuies and blunderbusses belonging to the transport, 
and drilled to the use of the carronades on board. These 
measures were necessary from the presence of American vessels 
and privateers hovering about the convoy. The company was 
consequently kept perpetually on the alert until it landed at 
Dauphine Island on the 28th February, too late to take part in 
the war. 

Hostilities closed in North America with the capture of Fort 
Boyer, and the three companies with the force under Major- 
General Lambert, re-embarked at Dauphine Island for England 
in March. The eighth company, second battalion, returned to 
the ' Dawson ' transport, and the other two companies were put 
on board the ' Hyperion,' and all arrived at Woolwich in June 

Tlie two companies in Canada were continually on the move 
fortifying the frontiers. The third of the tliird battalion 
maintained its head-quarters at Kingston ; and the fourth of 
the fourth battalion commen''<'d the year at the Holland River. 
It was next removed to Penetanguishine Harbour, where half 
' Pasley's 'Elementary Fortlflcation,' i., note d, p. x. * 'Ijondon Gazefti-.' 




of the company under Captain W. R. Payne, completed the 
military arrangements for establishing a naval depot. It then 
proceeded to York ; afterwards to Fort George, Sandwich, and 
Drummond's Island, on Lake Huron. From one or other of 
the companies, parties wore thrown out to Fort Niagara, 
Turkey Point, Amherstberg, Fort Wellington, Montreal, 
Coteau do Lac, and Lower Canada. In carrying on the 
various duties of the department, the sappers, who were em- 
ployed as overseers of military wo'*king-parties, were found of 
great advantage.^ During the year, eighteen men deserted 
from the companies, most of whom were seduced from their 
allegiance by sergeant Robert Hunter of the corps. When 
he headed the del led party into the States, he was off Fort 
Grochett, River St Clair, on his way from Sandwich to Michili 
Machinac, Lake Huron. 

From the company at Halifax detachments were sent on 
particular duties to the harbour posts, but chiefly to the works 
at Sherbrooke's Tower on Manger's Beach. 

On the 2nd March, one sergeant and eight rank and file 
embarked at Barbadoes for special service under Captain A. 
Brown, R.E. On the 28th May, the party was increased to 
thirty-three men of all ranks, and was present with the force 
under Lieutenant-General Sir James Leith at the captures of 
Martinique on the 5th June, and Guadaloupe on the 9th 
August. In the latter attack the sappers were engaged with 
the artillery at the guns. Tlie head-quartei-s of the sappers 
were then changed from Barbadoes to Guadaloupe ; and the 
establishment of the corps in the West India comma, rfas 
reduced from two companies to one. 

The sixth company, second battalion, and sixty men of the 
Maltese sappers at Messina, embarked at Milazzo on the 17th 
May and landed at Naples on the 27th. On the 2nd July 
following they ro-embarked, and arrived at Genoa on the 11th 
of that month. There the Maltese sappers were reinforced by 
tlie landing of the remainder of the company from Messina on 
tlie 18th October. Tlie number of the whole reached 101 men, 
' Pasley's ' Elementary Fortification,' i., note n, page vi. 





including the small pai'ty which rejoined the company from 
Corfu in April, Throughout the year, detachments of the 
sixth company, second battalion, were maintained at Palermo 
and Faro ; and a party of two sergeants and nineteen rank and 
file, sent on a secret expedition, was afterwards on duty for a 
few months at Milan and Marseilles. 

Undev a royal warrant, dated 5th October, the two com- 
panies of Maltese sappers stiitioned at Malta and Gozo, were 
disbanded ; and t)ie war company — retained for general service 
— was assimilated in all essential respects to the royal sappers 
and miners. The establishment of the company was fixed at 
one sub-lieutenant, five sergeants, five corporals, five second- 
corporals, three drummers, and seventy privates ; and its 
strength was sustained, from time to time, by transfers of 
Britons, Maltese, Sicilians, and Italians — all properly-qualified 
artificers — from the regiments serving in the Mediterranean. 
The designation of the company — " Maltese Sappers and 
Miners" — assumed in 1813 for the sake of uniformity, was 
confirmed by the warrant, and the colour of the dress was 
changed from blue to red. 

On the representation of four sub-lieutenants, the regimental 
allowances of officers of that rank were brought under con- 
sideration. On active duty the pay was found to be inadequate 
to meet the requirements of the service. In the Peninsula, the 
officers with the army had to endure much hardship, and were 
continually menaced with pecuniary difficulties and embarrass- 
ments. Aware of these focts, Lieutenant-Colonel Burgoyne and 
Major Rice .Tones backed the appeal by forcible recommenda- 
tions to Lieutenant-General Mann, and on the 9th November 
the Prince Regent was pleased to increase the pay of the sub- 
lieutenants from 5». Id. to 6«. 7d. a-day. 

In January the fourth company, second battalion, moved 
from Antwerp to Ypres, where they were quartered in the 
bishop's palace and adjoining convent, which had been sacri- 
legiously converted by the French into an engineer establish- 
ment. The defences of Ypres had not been repaired since the 
fortress was taken by the French in 1794. Two considerable 




breaches were in the body of the j)lace and the various out- 
works were in a dilapidated condition. The officers of engineers 
and the company were ein])loyed in restoring the works to a 
state to resist a field attack or a coup-de-main. This last 
contingency, however, was not calculated upon until Napoleon 
had regained the capital and the royal family fled to the 
frontier. The startling intelligence was announced to the 
resident engineer — Captjiin Oldfield — at six o'clock one even- 
ing, and by the same hour next morning, parties of saj)pers 
under two officers of engineers had opened the sluices and 
covered, with inundations, the two breaches on I'ae Bailleul 
front. Immediately after, large military parties under the 
direction of the sappere and the officers of royal engineers com- 
menced the work of strengthening the fortress, and further 
assisted by labourcia of all ages intermixed with stout women 
and sturdy girls from the town and adjacent villages, the 
fortress was renewed with singular despatch. Sub-Lieutenant 
Adam, who was ajjpointed assistant engineer, superintended 
the restoration of the body of the place near the Lille gate and 
the outworks in front of the Menin and Dixnmde gates ; he 
also attended to the repairs of the comnuuvcation boats and 
bridges, barriers, posterns, &c. ^^ ith the exciiption of the 
sapj)ers, the gamson was entirely composed of foreign troops 
who could not speak a v/ord of English, and as the sappers had 
only mastered a few elementary snatches of the Flemish lan- 
guage, the duty of superintendence was not accomplished 
without difficulty. 

To the force in Holland was added the fifth company, second 
battalion, which embarked at Woolwich on the 2nd January, 
and landed at Antwerj) the sivme month. This company and 
two others already there, were employed for several mouths in 
improving the defences of the frontiers of the Netlierlands, par- 
ticularly at Ypres, Tournay, Mons, Menin, Denderniond, Ath, 
Naumr, Charleroi, and Brussels. The various works were 
sulxlivided amongst the n(m-con\missioned officers and privates, 
each of whom was held responsible for the proper execution of 
the work intrusted to his superintendence. The peasants and 




women under the direction of each counted from 20 to 100, and 
even more, according to circumstances.'' Sergeant John Purcell 
had from 300 to 400 women under his orders at Ypres ; and 
from some winning pecuharity in his mode of command, ob- 
tained from their willing obedience and energies an amount of 
labour that was almost astonishing. No less than about 1,800 
peasants and 2,000 horses were engaged in these works, and, 
by all accounts, they were conducted with the greatest regularity 
and despatch. Sir Charles Pasley attributes no inconsiderable 
credit to the sappers for their assistance in the general services 
of the frontier;' and the Master-General, the Earl of Mul- 
grave, in a letter dated 4th April, expressed his " warm appro- 
bation of their zeal and exertions." The Duke of Wellington 
also on visiting the frontier, awarded similar praise to the officers 
and sappers, particularly for their efficient labours at Ypres. 

Meanwhile Napoleon, breaking his captivity in Elba, re- 
appeared in France, and wherever he journeyed, was enthu- 
siastically welcomed by his former legions. As by a spell, the 
army gathered under the wings of his eagles, and again lifted 
him into the imperial seat from which he had been so recently 
expelled. Europe was once more thrown into commotion by 
the event, and to crush the lofty hopes and pretensions of an 
intolerable ambition, war was at once declared by the Allies 
against the usurper. 

At the instance of the Duke of Wellington,^ who requested 
" the whole corps of sappers and miners " to be sent to Brus- 
sels to join his Grace's force, seven companies of the corps, 
instructed in their art, were hurried off to Ostend between the 
24th March and 10th June, and distributed with all possible 
haste to those fror tier posts and fortresses in the Netherlands 
that most requireu their services. Those companies were the 

Third and sixth of the first battalion ; 
Second and eighth of the second battalion ; 
First and seventh of tlie third battalion ; and 
First of the fourth battalion : 

Pasley's 'Elementary Fortification,' i., note b, p. vi. 
" 'Wellington Dispatches," viii., p. 18, edit. 1847. 





and they were employed in constructing indispensable field- 
works, or improving the fortifications at Ostend, Ghent, Nieu- 
port, Tournay, Oudenarde, Boom, Escancffe, Antwerp, Lille, 
Liefkcnshoek, and Hal. Not less than 20,000 civil labourers 
with very strong milit^iry parties, were employed on the line of 
works extending from Ostend to Mons, and it was due to the 
intelligent manner in which the 8a])pers carried out the duties 
of overseers, that this important field operation was so efficiently 
executed. Hal was the dejjot from which the engineer brigades 
were equip|)ed. The three companies in the Low Countries, 
before the campaign opened, were the fourth and fifth of the 
second battalion, and the fourth of the third battalion. The 
total strength of the whole ten companies reached the following 
numbers : — 

Sub- Spcomi 

Lieuts. Sergeants. Corporals. Corporals. lirummorB. IMvatcs. 








782 : 

The Sub-Lieutenants were A. Ross, J. Spcarks, W. Stratton, 
P. Johnston, W. Knapp," J. Armstrong, A. Turner, C. Gratton, 
J. Adam, and E. Sanders, 

In order that the organizations of every description with the 
army should be as complete as forethought could make tliem, 
the Duke of Wellingtou recommended the employment of two 
compjvnics of seamen as pontoneers. No exertions wore omitted 
to give effect to his Grace's wishes, and 200 hardy man-o'- 
war's men, with Captain diaries Napier, Ii.N., at their head, 
were speedily embarked in the ' Euryalus ' to join the army as 
bridsremen for the campaig'\ Meanwhile the Duke, who was 
uiiaware of the extensive character of the instruction imparted 
to the sajipers at Chatham, was informed, that the companies of 
the corps in ihe Netherlands had, for the most part, been trained 
in the art of constructing military bridges, and had acquired an 
expertness in all the details and management of floating equip- 
ments under the careful tuition of Lieutenant-Colonel Pasley, 

Corroborated by the official State on the 18th June, 1815. See 'Garwood,' 
vol. viii., App. xiii., p. 3'.t2, edit. 1847. 
" Died at Tournay, 16th June, 1815. 



that promised to equal the most gigantic requirements of the 
service. His Grace, only too glad to learn this agreeable 
intelligence, revoked his original intention, countermanded 
the landing of the seamen, and thus the duty of forming the 
bridges for the passage of rivers, was wholly confined to the 
royal sappers and miners.® 

At the battle of Waterloo the royal sappers and miners 
were not engaged. Three companies, however, were brought 
conveniently near to act in the event of their services being 
needed ; and two companies with the pontoons, were quar- 
tered at Maliues. Of the fonner companies, the first com- 
pany, fourth battalion, is considered to have behaved with 
discredit in quitting the field without sufficient reason, and 
losing, in the precipitancy and confusion of the march, its 
baggage and field equipment. But the stigma seems to have 
been attached to the company without an adequate investigation 
of the circumstances under which the retreat was imperatively 
resorted to. 

The details of the affair are as follows: — On the 17th June 
the company moved from Hal by Braine-la-leud towards 
Waterloo, marching the whole of the night, and was on the 
position when the action commenced on the morning of the 18th. 
After a time, it was ordered to the rear by Major Sir George 
Hoste, and accordingly it marched to the furthest end of the 
village of \\\'iterloo under Lieutenant W. Faris and Sub- 
Lieutenant R. Turnei'. There the company remained till 
between three and four o'clock p.m., when Lieutenant C. K. 
Sanders, R.E., joined it. About this time a brigade of Hano- 
verian artillery and cavalry, and several of tht "ritish cavalry, 
were retiring. The latter had vainly laboured to penetrate 
the retreating crowds, and informed Lieutenant Sanders that 
the French were at the other end of the village. In a wood 
on the right, discharges of muskcti-y were heard, and both 
officers and men, who hurried away from the battle, cor- 
roborated the general testimony, that the enemy not only had 

" 'Wellington Dis .Htches,' edit. 1847, (2 & 12 May,) pp. .5.'), 81. 




possession of the wood, but in a short time would cut ofi* the 
British irom the road. Still incredulous of the alarming 
rumours which reached him, Lieutenant Sanders sought more 
decisive information as to the reported advantages of the 
French, and at length, satisfied with the additional affirma- 
tions of hundreds of officers and soldiers, who threatened in 
their flight to overrun the company, he at once ordered it to 
retire. The circumstances fairly justified this step. But the 
company had not proceeded far before it was unavoidably 
thrown into difficulties and disorder. To relieve itself from 
the masses was impossible. Driven in rear, and encompassed 
by overwhelming numbers of different regiments, it was borne 
along at a very rapid rate, in the vortex of the confusion. By 
the presence of cavalry and cannon, and of capsized waggons 
and baggage, its march was interrupted and its files broken. 
Many of the men, therefore, who could not keep up were dis- 
persed among the fugitives ; the brigade of waggons, stopped 
by insuperable obstructions on tlie road, was abandoned, and 
the company thus routed lost many of its knapsacks and most 
of its intrenching tools, baggage, and horses.'" Such are the 

'" To show how serious was the alarm, aud how great the number of fugi- 
tives, the following extract from general orders, dated Nivelles, iiOth June, 
1815, will fully testify:— 

" 3. The Field Marshal has observed that several soldiers, and even officers, 
have quitted their rauks without leave, and hive gone to Bruxelles, and even 
some to Antwerp, where, aud in the country t. -ough which they have passed, 
they have spread a false alarm, in a manner highly unmilitary and derogatory to 
the character of soldiers. 

" 4. The Field Marshal requests the General Officers commanding divisions 
in the British army, aud the General Officers commanding the corps of each 
nation of which the army is composed, to report to him in writing, what 
officers and men (the former by name) are now, or have been, absent without 
leave since the Kith instant. 

" r>. The Field Marshal desires that the 14th article of the 14th section of 
the Articles of War may be inserted in every orderly book of the British army, 
in order to remind officers and soldiers of the punishment affixed by law to the 
crime of creating false alarms." — 'Garwood,' viii., p. I.^ti, edit. 1847. 

Nearly 2ii0(t men were returned " missing," the greater number of whom 
were said to have gone to the rear with wounded officers and soldiers. — 'Gur- 
wood,' viii., p. 151, edit. 1847. Hut the probability is, that very few of this 
strength returned into the buttle, but, worked upon by the alarm, helped to 
swell the force of the renegades. Under the circumstances, the retreat of the 




facts of this ill-understood affair, which deserve to be riewed 
more with regret than animadversion ; but Colonel Carmichael 
Smyth, jealous of the honour of uie corps, and feeling this 
apparent taint upon its charac' jr, was higlily displeased, and 

company of sappers is fairly exonerated, .iressed as it was by masses of troops 
of all nations, who fled from the field in infamous haste and terror. 

It is right to go a step further, and show what was the effect of the alarm at 
Brussels — 24 miles away from the position ; and thus notice the conduct of one 
who should be recognized in these pages. Some hours before the company arrived 
at Brussels, the panic was so complete, that the inhabitants flew in all directions 
from the horrors of an anticipated calamity, and not a few of the soldiers 
quartered in the place swelled the rout. Sergeant-major Hilton in charge of a 
detachment of sappers, prepared for the worst by packing the plans, charts, &c., 
of the engineer department, and also the military baggage of the commanding 
royal engineer. As all his own drivers had disappeared, he harnessed a couple 
o( horses in readiness to move should necessity force him. A Belgic servant 
of Colonel Carmichael Smyth's, who had been in the French service, ought 
to have assisted, but showing signs of treachery, an altercation ensued, in 
which, to save himself from the cut of a sabre, the sergeant-major wounded 
the shins of the Belgian with a stroke from a crowbar. Expecting no aid from 
this faithless foreigner, the sergeant-major looked about for more reliable intel- 
ligence respecting the rumoured reverse at Waterloo. While doing so the 
Commandant of Brussels accosted him, which led to his explaining the course 
he intended to pursue to preserve the plans, &c., from falling into the hands of 
the enemy. After remarking that there was no fear of the French reaching 
the city, the Commandant desired him to order the provost, with all the dis- 
posable men of his guard, to wait upon him immediately at the Rue Royale. 
Sergeant Hilton promptly complied ; but the provost — this paragon of order 
and discipline — could not be found ; and his irresolute men were only too 
desirous of following in the wake of the winged crowd. At last about nine of 
the guard accompanied the sergeant-major to the Rue Royale, where the Com- 
mandant ordered him to station the men across the road leading to Antwerp. 
" Stop every waggon," he roared, furious at the insane sight that everywhere 
met his gaze, " and run any one through who attempts to pass in violation of 
your orders !" The terror of the citizens was at its highest, soldiers of every 
country were pouring into the capital ; all was confusion and haste ; the streets 
were lined with vehicles in endless variety, and each owner was striving to out- 
ride his neighbour in the frantic chase. It required to be firm at such a time, 
and the sergeant-major, quite as stem as the Commandant, drew his sword, and 
opposing himself and his small guard to the onward movement of the vans, 
gtemnted with difficulty the flight. Quickly the horses were withdrawn from 
the shafts, to prevent the possibility of whipping them forward ; and turning a 
waggon with its broadside to the stream, the outlet was thus partially closed. 
So great now was the pressure from behind that waggon drove on waggon, 
and smashing in the roadway, the passage was at length blocked up with an 
impenetrable barricade, which effectually checked the efflux of the fugitives to 
Antwerp, and calmed the agitation of the people. 




refused to recommend the officers und men of the company for 
the Waterloo honours and advantages." 

Another company ordered to Waterloo on the 18th June, 
gained much praise for its firmness and regularity in pushing 
up to the field. Tiiis was the eighth company, second battalion, 
under Sub-Lieutenant Patrick Johnston. At 2 o'clock on the 
morning of the 18th it marc'i!<;d from Antwerp, and on arrival 
at Brussels Lieutenant Johnston, finding that the captain of 
the company as well as the commanding royal engineer and 
his staff were in the field, at once moved on for Waterloo. 
Crowds of wounded soldiers, anxious runaways, dismantled 
waggons and cannon, greatly impeded the march. From all 
he met he received the most discouraging advice, but amid the 
general ])anic and the numerous obstacles he had to contend 
with, he resolutely pursued his march and reached the village 

■■ The only soldier of the corps actually in the battle was lance-corporal 
Henry Donnelly, who was orderly to Captain and Brigade-Major, now Major- 
General Oldfield, K.H. He was present on the 17th and 18th, and Colonel 
Carmichael Smyth, who was seriously indisposed on the night of the 1 7th, was 
much indebted to him for his care and attention. His claim to a medal was 
warmly advocated by the Major, who testified to his presence in the field for 
two days, but Colonel Smyth never would allow that he was entitled to it. At 
the final rejection of his just right corporal Donnelly was so much affected, 
that shortly after he went into hospital, and died on the 25th July, 1817. 

The claim of corporal Donnelly hud been officially recognized at one time in 
the following order by the officer commanding his company : — 

" Company orders. Argeuteuil, August G, 181.5. In consequence of private 
Henry Donnelly being present at the battle of Waterloo, be is entitled to two 
years advance of service. Ho will therefore be mustered according to the regu- 
lations of his Royal Highness the Prince llegent, dated 29th July, 1815. — 
(Signed) Ed. Covey, Lieutenant Royal Engineers." And he was so mustered 
until July I81C, when Colonel Smyth ordered its discontinuance, making at the 
same time these remarks : — " The sapper in question rode out a horse of Major 
Oldfield's on the 17th, and returned to Brussels on the morning of the 18th, 
without having seen an enemy or heard a shot fired. He was in Brussels 
during the actions of the Kith and 18th; and under these circumstances I 
should have bc-en guilty of a dereliction of duty to have certified that he was 
entitled to a medal, and which he could hardly have worn ■ •< he parade of his 
company, in preference to the very good non-commissioned officers and men of 
that company, who have constantly done their duty much to my satisfaction and 
their own credit ; and who could not but liave felt aggrieved tu have seen a 
mark of distinction bestowed upon private Donnelly without his having in any 
way deserved it." 




of Waterloo at 4 o'clock p.m., in a state that reflected preat 
credit upon tlie discipline and perseverance of ihe conij)any. 
Late in the evening, after tiring liad ceased, tis there were 
many inducements to plundering and straggling. Lieutenant 
Johnston withdrew the company a short distance on the 
Brussels road, and placed it in an empty barn till next morn- 
ing, wlien it commenced its march for Paris. In applauding 
the company for its steadiness and order under trying circum- 
stances, Colonel C. Smyth alluded in a particular manner to 
the meritorious conduct of Lieutenant Johnston. Neither the 
officer nor his men were considered entitled to the Waterloo 
medal and extra service ; and for several years afterwards 
many of the company claimed these advantages with unprece- 
dented pertinacity, but without effect. 

" The experience of former defects in the Peninsula," wrote 
Lieutenant-Colonel Pasley, "led to the more perfect organi- 
zation of the field establishment of the royal engineer depart- 
ment." On the 20th June orders to eft'ect the arrangement 
were issued by (Joloncl C. Smyth. " Every division of the 
army had one engineer's brigade attached to it ; each brigade 
consisting of a complete company of well-trained sappers and 
miners, with drivers, horses and waggons carrying entrenching 
tools sufficient to employ a working party of 500 men, besides 
a proportion of artificers' tools, and other engineer stores." '" 
The number of companies so distributed was six. " A captain 
and a certain number of subaltern officers w(;re attached to each 
brigade, and were responsible for the discipline of the men and 
efficiency of the horses," &c.'' 

Four companies were attached to the pontoon train, " which," 
according to the same authority, " consisted of eighty poi.toons, 
besides store-waggons, &c., and was drawn by nearly 800 
horses, the whole being under the command of Brevet-Major 
Tylden of the engineers, assisted by a due proportion of 
captiiins and subalterns of the same corps." '* The second 
company, fourth battalion, under Sub-Lieutenant Samuel 

" Paslcy's 'Elementary Fortification,' i., note f, p. xii. 
i-" Ibid. '* Ibid 




M'Lean, of sixty-seven total, having joined the army from 
England soun after the disposition, was also added to the 
])ontoon train. 

The total of the engineer establishment with the army and 
in the Netherlands, under the command of about sixty officers 
of engineers, amounted to 10 sub lieutenants and b38 soldiers 
of the royal 8aj)pers and miners, and, adds Lieutenant-Colonel 
Pasley, " 550 drivers in charge of KiO waggons, pontoon car- 
riages included, and more than 1,000 horses." Besides 
medical officers and other non-combatants, and a large force 
of peasants emj)loyed on the works, " a small number of 
Flemish seamen, accustomed to rivers and coasting navigation, 
was attached to each division of the pontoon train." " The 
hired drivei*s, paid at l.v. G(7. a-day each and rations, were 
provided with a uniform of grey clothing, hiiving red cuffs and 
collars to their round jackets ; and the Flemish seamen, re- 
ceiving each an allowance of 2*. a-day and rations, were 
dresse<l like British sailors, having on the front of their low 
glazed caps, painted in white, the word " Pontoneer." 

All the companies of the corps moved with the army towards 
Paris, leaving a few small detachments dispersed in Flanders. 
'J'lie second comj)any, second battalion, attached to the first 
division, wad present at the capture of Peronne on the 26th 
June under Sub-Lieutenant W. Stratton and two caj)tain8 of 
engineers. The ladders used on tiic occasion were collected in 
the neighbourhood, but being too short were lashed together. 
The company had the honour of leading the brigade of guards 
to the assimlt,'" and behaved remarkably well.'" Preceding 
the column, they threw a immber of fascines and faggots, 
luistily prepared by them, into the ditch of the hornwork, 
and thus enabled the troops to pass its swampy bottom into 
the body of the j)lace.'* A party of the company advanced 
under a heavy fire to force the main entrance. No ladders 

" Paslcy's ' Elementary Fortification,' i., uote f, p. xii. 
" Ibid, i., note i), p. ix. 

" ' Wellington DispatcheB,' viii., p. 17ti, edit. 1847. 

" Colonel Carmichael Smyth's ' Plans of attack upon Antwerp,' &c., p. 9, 
and plan. 




were carried with it, nor any slodge-liammers or instruments 
by whiclj to force it oytcn. Daring men were in the batcii, 
and their first impulse, fbriorn as it was, urged tlieni to momit 
the gate. Lieutenant Stratton and lance-co''iK)ral Edward 
Councill soon gained tlie top, and tearing themselves over the 
spikes which crowned it, jumju-'d into the place, tore down the 
fastenings, and pulling the gate open, admitted the troops. 
In leading the storniers into the work. Captain Alexander 
Thompson, R.E., and Lieutenant Stratton were severely wounded, 
as also two men of the company. Corporal Councill was dan- 
gerously wounded in the breast. 

For the passage of the army to Paris, a pontoon bridge was 
thrown over the Seine at Argeuteuil early in July. Twenty 
pontoons were employed in ita formation, and also some 
trestles, which were placed next to the banks of the river. 
On its completion, the Duke of Wellington, who was present 
during the greater part of the operation, .irst passed over 
leading his horse, and then the whole army with its artillery 
and baggage. 

From the acute winding of the Seine it was again neces.«ary 
to pass the troops over the river, and a pontoon bridge similar 
to the one laid at Argenteuil was thrown at Aniers. The fifth 
company, second battalion, and seventh company, third bat- 
talion, constructed these bridges. Some Flemish seamen as- 
sisted in their formation, confining their exertions chiefly to 
mooring the pontoons. Skilful as they were as sailors, their 
want of previous training as pontoneei-s, rendered them far less 
serviceable than the royal sappers and miners.'" The bridges 
were maintained for some months on the Seine, facilities being 
aflx)rded for continuing the navigation without interruption. 
For this purpose an opening was made in the centre of each 
bridge, and when required to be r(!-cstablished for the passage 
of the troops, the floating rafts were lashed in their places and 
removed again when tli<^ occasion was served. A sufiicient 
detachment under Sub-Lieutenant James Adam was posted for 
a season at Chatou, to attend to a similar duty at the bridge 
"" Pasley's ' Eltinentary Kortiiication,' i., note f, p. xii. 




thrown there by the Russians. Three companies with forty 
pontoons were also stationed at Epinay. 

After the capture of Paris, tlie Earl of Miilgrave, then 
Master-General of the Ordnance, in a letter dated 11th July, 
ex])ressed his hijjh appreciation of the zealous, able, and bene- 
ficial exertions of the officers and soldiers of the corps during 
the successful proji^ress of the campaign ; and also of the ser- 
vices of the officers and men at the different fortresses. 

Corporal Joseph Coombs, of the fourth comjjany, second bat- 
talion, detached to Maubcuge on the 23rd July, under (Japtain 
Harding, royal engineers, was present at the sieges of Pliilip- 
ville, from the 7th to 18th August, and llocroy on the 15th 
and 16th following. lie was with the army conuiianded by 
Prince Augustus of Prussia, and was the only British 8apj)cr 
engaged. On leaving that army in Octolwr, Captain Harding 
said that the corporal had conducted himself extremely well, 
and was both intelligent and active in the different services in 
which he bad been employed. 

During the year a number of hired drivers deserted. Tliey 
were generally ignorant of their duties and many of them of 
bad character. To take care of the horses was the principal 
object of the chief engineer and his officera Obtaining an 
equal number of foreign drivers to replace the vacancies oc- 
e-vsioned by desertion, afforded no promise of advantage or 
im])rovement. It was, therefore, determined, to make an 
experiment by appointing the royal sappers and miners to the 
duty. Accordingly, the number of men required wsis attached 
to the horses, and " from their peculiar hal)its of zeal and 
exertion, they made no difficulty of reconciling themselves to 
ths novel occupation of grooms and drivers." The experiment 
was eminently successful. " The horses were kept efficient and 
in proper condition ;" and, " but for this measure, a number of 
valuable horses must have been ruined, and the pontoon train, 
as well as the engineers' brigades, by degrees, have become 
totally unserviceable." ^ 

At Paris the sappers were called upon to perform a domi- 
*° Paslcy's ' Elementary Fortification,' i., note r, p. «ii. 




ciliary visit to the capital, which probably is the only instance 
on record of British soldii^rs being so employed in an enemy's 
country. The Duke of Wellington having been informed that 
arms were carried nightly into Paris from Montmartre, desired 
Sir Thomas Brisbane, commanding the seventh division of 
the army, to order Captain Harry Jones, R.E., to take the 
company of sappers attached to the division, vith such tools as 
might be necessary, and examine rigidly every part of Mont- 
martre where it was probable arms might be concealed. The 
officer commanding the troops stationed within the intrench- 
nients, had orders not to allow any person to pass out, until 
Captain Jones had completed his examination. The sappers 
were employed nearly the whole day iu making the search. 
Every cellar, house, and garden was examined ; no place 
where it was possible to conceal arms was unexplored, but the 
result was unsuccessful. No doubt, however, existed, that the 
information communicated to the Duke cf Wellington was well 





MoTr.nents in France — Return of six companies from thence to England — 
S'.rength of tliose remaining, and detachments from them — St. Helena — 
itetiirn of company from Italy — -Disbandment of the war company of Mal- 
icse sappers — Battle of Algiers — Conduct of corps at Valenciennes — 
Instances in which the want of arms was felt during the war — Arming the 
corps attribatiiMe to accidental circumstances — Training and instruction of 
the corps in France — Its misconduct — Hut remarkable efficiency at drill — 
Municipal thanks to companies at Valenciennes — Dress — Bugles adopted — 
Reduction in the corps — Sub-Lieutenants disbanded — Withdrawal of compa- 
nies from certain stations — Uelief of company at Barbadoes — Repairing 
damages at St. Lucia ; conduct of the old West India company — Corfu — 
Inspection of corps in France — Epaulettes introduced — Sordid conduct of four 
men in refusing to wear them — Murder of private Milne, and consequent 
punbhmvnt of corps in France by the Duke of Wellington — Returu of the 
sappers from France. 

After the capitulation of Paris, the royal sappers and miners 
were encamped in the vicinity of the city. Late in the year 
they were removed to other stations on the northern frontiers 
of France ; and until the formation of the army of occupation, 
were constantly changin;,'' their quarters and furnishing detach- 
ments for particular services at ditterent ])]accs. 

To meet the arrangements for reducing the army in France, 
six companies quitted the country for England in January. 
Four embarked at Boulogne and two at (.'alais. The former 
arrived at Vroolvich on the Uth February and the latter on the 
following day. 

Five companies remained with the army of occupation and 
were attached to tlivisions as follows ; — 

1st division 
2nd division 
3rd division 


Pontoon train 

8th com., 'ipd batt. 
1st com., .'trd batt. 
4th com., 2nd batt. 
2nd com., 4th batt, 
com., 2nd batt. 

I 2nd CO 
I 5ih CO 

Sub-Lieut. P. .Johnston. 
Sub-Lieut. W. Stevens. 
Sub- Lieut. J. Adam. 
Sub-Li. .'t. S. M'Lean. 
Sub-Lieut. C. Gratton. 




Tlicir united strength counted 435 of all ranks, and they 
were quartered at Valenciennes, Raismes, Cantain, Bellain, 
St. Amand, Penies, Denain, and Houdain. These places were 
the chief stations of the corps until its removal from Franco in 
1818. Parties were also detached to (Jambrai, St. Pol, and 
other places. Raismes was the head-quarters of the pontoon 
train. Each couij)any attached tc the train had twenty pon- 
t-^ons with stores and waggons in charge. The second com- 
pany, fourth battalion, was attached to the right bridge of the 
train, and the fifth company, second battalion, to the left. 
The former bridge was permanently stationed at Raismes, 
but the latter was repeatedly moved from village to village 
for service and instruction, making its chief halts at Raismes 
and Aubry. 

On the 2()th January the se\cnth company, fourth battalion, 
of forty-eight total under Sub-Lieuti'uant A. Wallace followed 
Napolec n to St. Helena, and landed un the 'Phaeton' 
frigate on the l.'Jth A])ril. Major JMnmett, R.E. took command 
of the comj)any on its arrival. In carrying on the duties of 
the island the men were unich detached and separated. Many 
acted as overseers of the Chinese and line workmen, and were 
found very useful in their several occupations. The head- 
quarters were at St. .Tanie:,', and j)arties at difl'erent periods 
were employed at Prosperous Ray, Tm-k's Cap, Sandy Ray, 
Great Pound llidge. Horse Pasture Point, Lemon Valley^ 
Rupert's Hill, Rupert's Valley, Ladder Hill, &c. Resides 
attending to the repairs of the barracks and public buildings 
and strengthening the sea-defences, the com])any rendered 
efficient assistance in the building of a residence for Napoleon 
at Longwood. The structure was of one story only and con- 
tained about forty rooms. It was, however, never occupied, as 
the ex-emi)eror expired before the furniture had been arranged 
in the several ai)artments. 

On the evacuation of Italy the sixth c(mipany, second bat- 
talion, under Sub- lieutenant R. Gibb, saiK'd from Clenoa and 
landed at Gibraltar on the 17th March. Two months after 
a fourth coni))any was added to the engineer force on the Rock, 





by the arrival, in tiie ' Kenncsby Castle ' transport, of the first 
company, fourth battalion, from Portsmouth. 

The Maltese company of sappers quitted Genoa with the 
British troops and landed at Malta in March. It continu ;d to 
maintain its military orji,'anization and character until the 31st 
March, 1817, when, by the Prince Regent's command, it was 
disbanded. This was the last company of the Maltese sappers 
and miners. 

On the 27th August the seventh company, first battalion 
under Cajrtain William Keid and Major William Gosset, R.E., 
"had the high honour," sajs Sir John Jones, " of participating 
with the fleet," under Lord Exmouth, " in a splendid naval 
triumph." This was the battle of Algiers. " Under the idea," 
adds Sir John, " that it might become necessary to land and 
destroy some of the ))atteries and works covering the harbour 
of Algiers, the company," eighty-four strong, " was embarked 
with the fleet ; but owing to the daring intrepidity and able 
nautical manoeuvres of Lord Exmouth, their services as miners 
were rendered umiecessary." ' Throughout the action, there- 
fore, they fought with the seamen at the guns of the ' Queen 
(luu'lotte ' and the ' Impregnable,' and gained equal credit 
with the navy and marines for their "noble support."'' Sub- 
Lieutenant S. {'alder and fifteen rank and file were wounded, 
of whom private David Campbell mortally. The company re- 
turned to England in the ' Queen Ciiarlotte ' and the ' Glasgow ' 
frigate in October, and as a reward for their services each 
soldier received a gratuity of two months' pay. 

('omjjaratively unnoticed, from the nature of their duties, it 
was seldom that the sappers and miners were referred to in the 
despatches of general ofiicers ; but the rule seems to have been 
infringed by Lieut.-Genend Sir Charles Colville, who on quit- 
ting liis command at Vjileneiennes early in 1817, oliered tiic 
following tribute to their merits : — 

Mv DEAR i--lB CllAULKS, LoiuloD, 10th April, 1817. 

I am unwilling to part with those whom I regard so much, without 
hiUdiug them adieu, and therefore rei[Uest you will accept yourself, and have 

Jones's ' Sieges,' ii., p. .",91, 2nd edit. 

' ' London Gazette.' 

u 2 




the goodness to express to the - ther officers of the royal engineers of the 
Valenciennes' staff and pontoon trai ', as well as those who were attached to the 
late third division, my sincere goou wishes for their continued honour and 
welfare, and that you and they and the olicers and privates of the royal sappers 
and miners will accept my thanks for t^e promptitude and correctness with 
which my wishes were met by them, durinj- the time I had the honour to have 
them under my command. 

I am, &c., 
(Signed) Charles Colvilie. 

Lieut.-Colonel Sir C. F. Smith, R.E. 

Arming the corps ericiently had for years been a subject of 
discussion and representation. Lord Mulgrave, the Master- 
General, however, could not be persuaded of the necessity of 
the measure, and under the opinion that a working corps ought 
not to be armed, sent detachments to the T>eiiinsula equipped 
only with swords. The evil of this was greatly felt, as the 
sappers could not march across the country without being 
guarded by other troops. For the same reason the company 
attached to the light division, which was required for the siege 
of Bayonne, was unable to join. Upwards of 400 sappers were 
employed in that siege, and might, had they been equipped 
with fire-arms, have rendered important assistance in repelling 
the disastrous sortie. 

Eleven companies were sent to the Netherlands in a similarly 
defenceless state. Before moving them, Earl Mulgrave was 
ready to abide by the views of the Duke of Wellington on 
the point, as his Grace promised to consider the question 
when the first company should arrive ; but no farther notice 
appears to have been taken of the subject, and the whole eleven 
companies landed without a firelock. 

When the alanning and unfounded reports of the retreat of 
the British from Waterloo reached Malines, Major Tylden, 
with the pontoon companies under his command, assumed a 
posture of defence ; but the attitude, from want of arms, .tas 
necessarily impotent and embarrassing. This gave the Major 
a notion, when afterwards crossing the plains of Waterloo, of 
arming the companies with muskets and accoutrements scattered 
on the battle-field ; the idea, however, from some regimental 
considerations wais not carriec' out. 





On one occasion, near St. Denis, all the sappers of the army, 
nearly 1,000 strong, wore assembled to witness an execution, 
and strange to add, in that imposing force there was not a 
single fire-arm ! A t another time there was an inspection of 
the pontoon train of eighty pontoons and other carriages, with 
horses, drivers, and pontoneers, occupying a line of road nearly 
two miles in length. The sappers were present in their whole 
strength, but without a musket in their ranks to show the 
quality of protection they could afford to the immense charge 
intrusted to them. Fifty men with fire-arms could easily have 
destroyed the whole force in ten minutes. These instances and 
others equally striking, occurring in an enemy's country, were 
strongly brought under the notice of the higher powere ; but, 
where representations and remonstrances founded on the neces- 
sities of the service failed to obtain attention, accidental circum- 
stances at last gained the desired object. At the great reviews 
in France, the bridges required for the passage of the army 
were thrown the evening previously, and the sappers conse- 
quently were free for any other duty. Usually they were 
employed to represent the enemy, and to show the line of the 
enemy's position to advantage it was considered l)est to effect it 
by musketry fire. Ordei-s wore therefore given, on the 8th Oc- 
tober, to supply the comj)ani('s with muskets and bayonets fi'ora 
the stores at Valenciennes ; and from this trivial incident may 
be dated the period from which the corps was properly and uni- 
formly armed. 

To keep up the training and efficiency of the corps in France, 
Sir James Carmichael Smyth issued to each non-commissioned 
officer and fifty of the most steady and intelligent privates, 
books and useful articles for theii- instruction and improvement. 
Schools were also established for the men, and prizes liberally 
awarded for industrious application and advancement. To 
perfect the corps in the use of the firelock and marching evolu- 
tions, five Serjeants from the light infantry regiments in France 
were specially appointed to the duty. Each company was also 
required to execute a certain portion of field-work everj year 
and reports of individual progress in instruction Wvjre prepared 




weekly, which were carefully examined, and promotion dis- 
tributed according to merit. 1'hc pontoon train, which was con- 
stantly in motion and sustained a high character for activity 
and usefulness, was only expected to do half the work demanded 
from the divisional companies ; and this course of professional 
and general education, based uj)on the system of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Pasley, was scrupulously enforced until the companies 
quitted France in November, 1818. 

Notwithstanding all this attention on the part of the officers, 
there was much misconduct prevalent in the sappers. During 
the period that eleven comjjanies were with the army, courts' 
martial were very uncommon, and the punishments infinitely 
fewer than were found necessary to keep only five companies 
in order. Tiiis suggests a difficulty not easily explained ; for, 
when the six companies were removed from the country in 1816, 
the weeds from the other five were sent to England, and their 
places supplied by privates of unexceptionable character. 

So rigid indeed had the drilling been enforced that at the 
last reviews in the vicinity of Valenciennes, the correct manner 
in which the royal sa))pers and miners were handled by Captain 
Harry D. Jones, when representing the enemy, excited general 
approbation. Tlieir light infantry evolutions even emulated 
those of their old companions in arms of the light division, 
whose only business was that of constant exercise in the require- 
ments of the parade and in martial movements and combina- 
tions. The formation of " rallying scjuare " by the companies 
was particularly conmiended ; and those who did not justly 
appreciate their military attainments from the semi-civil nature 
of their many employments — expected to see them Hy, as the 
cavalry, in its impetuous charges over the plain, furiously ap- 
proached their compact and immoveable j)halanx. 

\Viiile these disciplinary exercises were in operation, it hap- 
pened that the fourth company second battalion at Valen- 
ciennes, was suddenly called upon to extinguish a fire in the 
town. So well applied were their eflbrts in this humane service 
that the flames were sjjcedily supj)ressed amid the thankful 
shouts of the peo])]e. This seemingly was not enough to mark 

1817. J 



their jrratitude, and therefore the mayor and corporation in full 
municipal costume bearing the symbols of their offices, waited 
upon (.'aptain Harry Jones to express the dcej) acknowledjrments 
of the inhabitants " to the officers and men of the corjjs for their 
conduct on the occasion." In his cn'ders of the 2nd November, 
Cajjtain Jones added, " The activity displayed by the non-com- 
missioned officers and privates as well as the cheerfulness with 
which they executed all orders reflects the highest credit upon 
them. Tiie bold conduct of private Tlumias James deserves to be 
particularly mentioned," and he was appointed a lance corporal. 

Early in the year the high-fronted chaco was superseded by 
a black felt cap of more military pretensions than was formerly 
worn. It was embellished with yellow cords and tassels, which 
fell with chivalric gaiety upon the left shoulder. The sergeants 
and staff sergeants wore white heckle feathers, gold bands and 
cords, with gilt scales and ornaments. — Sec Plate XII, 1823 

In March the drums throughout the corps were abolished and 
bugles adopted. The rank of drummer was also changed to 
accord with the alteration, and drum-major James Bailey, the 
first of the rank, was now styled bugle-major. 

The return of peace gave rise to a gradual reduction in the 
corps. On the IGth August, 181(), twenty-five men per com- 
pany were lopped off. This took away 800 men, reducing the 
corps from 2,8l51 to 2,061 of all ranks. By the royal warrant 
of the 4th Felmiary, 1817, an entire battalion was disbanded, 
and a further diminution of ten privates and one drunnner took 
{)lace in each of the remaining twenty-four companies. From 
the staff was taken one adjutant, one sergeant-major, and 
one quartermaster-sergeant, and also the whole of the sub- 
lieutenants, thirty-two in number.'' The establishment of the 

" Generally tlio sub-licuteuants were commissioned into tlie corps from the 
ranks of oilier regiments, as a patronage to the military friends of the Master- 
General. Many of them had distinguished themselves in the field, were good 
drills, and fine-looking soldiers ; but though considered at first to promise well, 
they disappointed the expectations formed of their probable usefulness. Want- 
ing the necessary ability and weight, they were neither reipccted in the army 
nor by the corps; and unable, therefore, to give tlie satisfaction which «a> 
reasonably hoped for, the first reduction ordered after the peace, embraced Ih 




corps was thus decreased to twenty-four companies of 1,258 of 
all ranks.^ 

In consequence of these orders, the companies at Dover and 
Spike Island were withdrawn, as also the detachment at 
Guernsey. The force at Gibraltar was reduced from four to 
three companies, and the strength at Woolwich and Chatham 
was brought down to a fluctuating establishment of five com- 

The company discontinued on the works at Spike Island, 
sailed for Barbadoes on the 17th December, 1817, on board 
the ' Thames of London ' freight-ship, to relieve the old com- 
pany which landed there in January, 1794. The vessel 
encountered some very stormy weather on the voyage, from 
the eflPects of which Lieutenant Rogers, II.E., who commanded 
the company, died when near Madeira, and the charge of the 
men devolved upon Captain Robert Duport of the royal 
artillery. Not a single irregularity was committed by the 
sappers during the voyage, and on their arrival in Carlisle 
Bay on the 18th January, Lord Combermere, the governor, 
expressed in orders his high satisfaction of their excellent 
conduct as reported to him by Captain Duport. 

On the landing of the new company, the old West India 
hands, dwindled to twenty-eight in number including sergeants, 
were sent to St. Lucia, and assisted in repairing the damage 
done by a recent hurricane. In March following, they arrived 
in England and were disbanded. In summing up their cha- 
racter. Colonel William Johnston, of the engineers, thus 

abolition of the rank. — Pasley's Mil. Pol., pp. 18, 19, Introduction. Their 
removtil from the corps was, nevertheless, alluded to in terms of " extreme 
regret" by Colonel Carniichael Smyth in his orders of the 22nd April. In 
concluding his address at parting, he thus wrote, " With the conduct of the 
whole of the sub-lieutenants Colonel Carmichael Smyth has had every reason 
to be satisfied, but more particularly with those who, having been longest 
under his command, he has had more occasion of knowing. If, in the course 
of future service, he should have any opportunity of being useful to them, he 
assures them he will embrace it with pleasure.'' 

* In addition to this total 180 men of the companies in France were born* 
on the strength as supernumeraries, until December, 1818. 




wTote, " They are a drunken set, and requirt; to be thought of 
and provided for like babies ;" but, nevertlieless, he urged that 
the sapper force in Barbadocs should be always maintitined 
complete, as it would act as a check -pon the contractors, and 
enable the estimates to be carried into execution with more 
despatch, economy, and superiority of workmanship in almost 
all the dctjiils, than if an equal number of artificers were 
derived from the country. 

A company of fifty strong, intended for the service of the 
palace of the Lord High Commissioner at Corfu, embarked at 
Portsmouth on the 4th May, and after a month's detention at 
Malta reached its destination in August. The employment of 
the company was chiefly confined to clearing away the rock, by 
blasting, for the foundations of the pjilace, and in executing 
such other miscellaneous services as were required. From 
local dis<agreements regarding the working pay of the company, 
the men were precluded from taking part in the artistic details 
of the palace, and eventually, from the same cause, it was 
removed from the island. 

Colonel Carmichael Smyth made his last general inspection 
of the corps in France in May, and in complimenting the com- 
panies for the excellency of their discipline, interior economy, 
and improvement in the field duties, awarded to fifteen non- 
commissioned officers and men— the most advanced in the 
course of instruction — a silver penholder each as a token of his 

This year, the companies in France substituted yellow 
worsted epaulettes for the plain shoulder-strap, the expense 
of which was borne by the men themselves. Among the 
companies there were four unepauletted privates who at all 
times fell in, like branded castaways, in the rear of their com- 
pany. The badges had been placed on their shoulders, but, 
more mean than avaricious, they refused to pay for them. Feel- 
ing none of that becoming pride which has always been so 
largely developed among even the connnonest soldiers, they 
were publicly strii)j)ed of the epaulettes intended to give them 
distinction, not allowed to disfigure the ranks with their j)re- 




sencc, and ultimatoly reiuovcul in contempt to England. The 
circnmstunci'rf of this ("urious jjrocoeding' arc <rivcn in tlic follow- 
ing spirited order of (Jolonel Carniichael Smyth. 

"C. E. O. Head Quarters, Caiiibray, .30th May, 1816. 
" The commanding engineer has received a report that four men of Captain 
Stauway's company, viz., privates — 

Patrick O'Kean, 
Andrew Oraliani, 
James ]iallin)rull, 
James Scol)le, 
have refused to sign their accounts, alleging that they have no right to pay for 
the additional fringe for their epaulettes, as sanctioned by the commanding 
engineer's orders of 4t)i April, 1S18. 

" Colonel Carmiehael Smyth liad not an idea that, in the wliole of the five 
companies in this country under liis command, four men of so sordid and mean 
a disposition would have been foimd. He holds them up to tlie contempt of 
their comrades, as void of every feeling that ought to actuate a soldier with 
pleasure or pride in the character or appearance of the company to which they 

" lie directs that the epaulettes may be forthwith cut off" their shoulders, and 
that they arc in future to parade upon all occasions in the rear of the company 
until an opportunity offers to send them away from it altogether. They will 
be removed to either the Gibraltar or West India company, being perfectly 
unworthy of sei-ving with this army. 

" Colonel Carmiehael Smyth feels confident that the non-eommissioued 
officers and men of the sapper companies with this army must be sensible of 
their improved state of discipline, regularity, and appearance, and how nmch 
in conse(iuence, their own individual happiness and respectability are increased. 
The character, conduct, and appearance of a corps, reflects good or evil upon 
every soldier belonging to it as the case may be. 

" The sapper companies have fortunately established a respectable character, 
and are well thought of in this army. The epaulettes have been adopted as 
distinguishing them from the infantry. The supper's duty requires much more 
intelligence, and much more previous training, than that of a common infantry 
soldier. He is better paid and better clothed, and ought to conceive himself 
happy at being permitted to wear a distinction showing that he is a sapper. 
Such, no doubt, will be the view taken of the subjeot by every non-commis- 
sioned officer and sapper who feels any way inten ted in the welfare and 
respectability of the corps. 

" Tlic sooner men who have not this feeling are got rid of the better. They 
are unworthy of belonging to this army. 

(Signed) " John Oldfield. 

" Major of Hrigade." 

On the 19th June, private Alexander Milne of the corps was 
found in a wheat-field, near Raismes, murdered I A number of 
the men of his company had been in the habit of breaking out 




of their quarters after tiittoo roll-call, and spending the time of 
their absence in (janibling. Some were said to have been 
playing with the deceased on the night of the murder. Strong 
suspicion attached to the card-party, but as the perpetrator of 
the deed could not be discovered, the Duke of \\'elliHgton, 
convinced that the murderer was in the ranks of the corps, 
ordered all the sappers and miners with the army, both near 
and distant, to parade (!very hour of every day from four in the 
morning till ten in the evening, as a punishment for the crime ; 
and as the order was never rescinded, it was enforced — with 
only a slight relief — until tiie very hour the companies quitted 
France.'' Several of the officers and many of the men were 
worn out and laid up with fevers l)y the rigour of the penalty, 
and its execution fell with singular hardship upon one of the 
companies which, quartered with the division encamped near 
St. Omer, was, at the time, seventy miles away from the jjlace 
of the murder ! 

Early in November, on the breaking up of the army of occu- 
pation, the eighth company, second battalion, took charge of 
the pontoons and stores to Antwerp, and the other four com- 
panies niarch(Ml from (Jambrai to ( 'alais, where, as arranged by 
General Pow(?r with the French governor, they were encamped 
on the glacis on the east side of the town. Tliis was requisite, 
as by the trcfity of the 3rd November, 1815, no troops of the 
army of occupation could be quartered within any of the for- 
tresses not specified in the treaty. At Calais the companies 

° The orders issued for the infliction of this discipline were as follows : — 
" Head Quarters, Cambray, 25th June, 1 81 8. In consequence of the cir- 
cumstances connected with the murder of Alexander Milne, of Cuptaiu Peake's 
company, which have appeared upon the proceedings of a court of enquiry, the 
Field Marshal has directed that thi; rolls of the royal sappers and miners may 
be called, until further orders, in their several cantonments every hour from 4 
in the morning until 10 at night, all the ollicers being present; and that a 
daily report thereof may be made to head-quarters." 

" Head-Quarters, Cambray, 18th July, 1818. In consequence of orders 
from His Grace the Commander of the F'orces, the rolls of the several compa- 
nies of royal sappers and miners will be called every two hours from 4 in the 
morning until 10 at night, in place of every hour as directed in the C. E. orders 
of the 25th ultimo." 





remained about a week, assisting in the cmbariiation of tlie 
army and the shipment of the cavalry horses. In this si rvice 
the sappers became so expert, tliat a regiment was embarked 
and many were landed at Dover during the same tide. All 
the companies arrived in England before the end of November. 
One sergeant and twenty men, under Lieutenant Ilayter, of the 
engineers, after the sailing of the troops, guarded the military 
chest both at Calais and on the passage, and rejoined their 
companies, when the important duty for which they were se- 
lected was completed. 





Kc-ductinn in the corps — Diitrihution — Sergeant Thomas Brown, the modellc-r — 
Heinforcement to the Cape, and services of the detachment during the Kaflir 
war — Epidemic at Itermuda — Damages at Antigua occasioned by a hurri- 
cane — Visit to Chatliam of tlic Dulie of Clarence — Withdrawal of a detach- 
ment from Corfu — A private becomes a peer— iJraft to liermuda — Second 
visit to Chatham of the Duke of Clarence— lever at Harbadoes— Death of 
Napoleon, and withdrawal of company froni St. Helena — Notici; of private 
John ISennett — Movements of the company in Canada — Trigonometrical 
operations under the Hoard of Longitude — Feversham — Helicf of the old 
(iibraltar company — Breastplates — St. Nicliolas' Island — Condition of com- 
pany at Karbadoes when inspected by the Kngineer Commission — Scattered 
state of the detachment at the Cape — Seri'ices of the detachment at Corfu — 
Intelligence and usefulness of sergeant Hall and corporal Lawson — Special 
services of coiporal John Smith — Pontoon trials — Sheerncss — Notice of cor- 
poral Shorter — Forage-caps and swords. 

By the royal warrant of 20th March, 1819, tlic peace estahlish- 
meiit of the corps was further reduced, from twenty-four com- 
panies of 1,258 total, to twelve companies of 752. Of this 
number the staff embraced one brigade-major, one adjutant, 
one quartermaster, two sergeant-majors, two quartermaster- 
sergeants, and one bugle-major. The organization of each 
company was fixed at the subjoined detail : — 

1 colour-sergeant, 

2 sergeants, 

3 corporals, 

3 second-corporals, 
2 buglers, 
r>l privates. 

Total . 62; 

and the whole were distributed, with regard to strength, con- 




sistently with the relative wants of the several stations. These 
stations were Woolwich, Chatham, Portsmouth, and Plymouth ; 
Gibraltar, Corfu, Bermuda, Barbadoes, St. Helena, Kingston 
in Upper Canada, and the Cape of Good IIoj)e.' 

A reinforcement of thirty men, under Lieutenant Rutherford, 
ll.E., arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on the 24th July. In 
consequence of hostilities with the Kaffirs the detachment 
marched 700 miles to the south-eastern frontier. It traversed 
a wild and thickly-wooded country, where there were neither 
bridges nor roads; and in the absence of soldiers of the 
quarterrorister-general's department, facilitated by their exer- 
tions the progress of the troops. In places where civil artificers 
could not be procured at any rate of wages, they executed 
various services and works of defence for the security and tran- 
quillity of the settlement. On one occasion they constructed a 
temporary bridge . of chmce materials, to span one of the prin- 
cipal rivers of the country, which was swollen by Hoods, and 
rendered deep, rapid, and dangerous. The bridge was thrown 
in six hours, and the whole of the force, about 2,000 hoi-se and 
foot, a demi-battery of guns with ammunition waggons, about 
100 baggage waggons with commissariat supplies, camp equi- 
page, &c., crossed in perfect safety, in three hours. " ^^'ithout 
the assistance of these sappers," writes Colonel IloUoway, R.E., 
" the river could not have been passed without much delay, 
loss of property, and perhaps loss of Ufe ;" and, "both on the 

' The companies at Ncwfouudland and at Halifax, Nova Scotia, returned to 
England late iu 1819. To the former company belonged scrgcarJ Thomas 
Hrown, who was discharged from the corps in November, 181S», after a service 
of twelve years. In 18-21 the late Sir William Coi-i^ ".'c appointed him 
modeller at the royal military repository, Woolwich, whicn situation he has 
held for *hirtj-six years with great credit. In that period he lias made 
125 models, chiefly of field artillery, pontoons, bridges, and miscellaneous 
military subjects. The greatest number are deposited for exhibition in the 
Itotunda, and the ret.diuder in the rooms of instructioa for the officers and 
non-commissioned of.cers. Many others aho, which were defective or out of 
repair he has renewed or remade. His principal works, considered with 
regard to the skill and artistic excellence displayed iii their construction, are 
the model of a fortified half octagon showing* the approaches and plan of 
ritlack, on a scale of 22^ feet to an inch, and a mi<del of St. James's Park as it 
was at the celebration of the peace in 1814. 



frontier, and at the seat of government, they were always found 
of tlie utmost hcnefit." The detacliment returned to Cape Town 
in December, when the remnant of tlie old party, which had 
been in the colony since 1800, quitted for England and arrived 
at Woolwich on the 5th September, 1.820. 

An epidemic fever of a severe character raged at Bermuda 
during the months of August and September, and out of a 
company of fifty ^wo total, no less than one sergeant, twenty 
rank and file, three women, and one child, fell victims to its 
virulence. Captain Cavalie S. Mercer who commanded the 
company, was also numbered with the dead. 

From Barbadoes, thirty non-connnissioned officers and men, 
under the command of Captain W. D. Smith, were detached 
to Antigua, in November, and worked in the engineer depart- 
ment, repairing the damage caused by a recent hurricane, 
until the January following, when they returned to their former 
station. Small parties, of fluctuating strength, were also de- 
tached to Trinidad, St. Lucia, Tobiigo, and Demerara, and 
had (barge of ditl'erent working parties at those islands for 
several years. 

At Chatham on the 11th November, the Duke of Clarence 
reviewed the corps under arms; and after witnessing various 
field operations, including the firing of mines, the construction 
of flying sai)s, and the mana-uvring of jjontoons, inspected the 
model and school moms. In tlie latter, he watched with great 
uiterest the system of instruction as -irried out by Lieutcna it- 
Colonel Pasley ; and in expressing liis perfect satisfaction with 
all he saw, added his opinion, that the establishment was one of 
great public utility. 

On the 14th of the sj\me month, thirty-four non-connnissioned 
officers and men of the company at (.'orfu were withdrawn from 
the island in t..o ' (.'hristiana ' transport, and sailed for England. 
On arriving at Gibraltar, one sergeant and nineteen rank and 
file joined the companies there under an order from General Sir 
George Don ; and the remaining twelve reached (Chatham on 
the 2nd April, 1820. The conduct of the company during its 
brief tour of duty at Corfu, was reported to the lnsj)ect(a'- 




General of Fortifications in very favourable terms, by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Whitmore, R.E.^ 

On the 5th June thirty-one men, chiefly masons and brick- 
layers, under Lieutenant Skene, R.E., arrived at Bermuda, to 
replace the meri who had died during the epidemic. A party 
of variable strength, with the exception of occasional periods of 
temporary withdrawal, was permanently detached to execute the 
defences at Ireland Island. 

In August the Duke of Clarence again visited Chatham, 
and a full routine of military and field operations was carried 
on for his inspection. W'th the works, the school's, and model 
rooms, his Royal Highness expressed his appro^ation in lan- 
guage that was both flattering to the corps and honourable to 
the institution. 

In October the yellow fever again visited Bcirbadoes, but its 
violence, contrasted with former visitations, was considerably 
assuaged, and its fatality less felt among the population. 
Forty-six of the corps were present during its prevalence, and 
though nearly the whole of the number were attacked, only 
eleven died, and but fifteen were invalided. The loss in the 
company, however, was proportionally more severe than in any 
other corps in garrison, and the deterioration in the general 
health of the men drew the particular notice of the Commander 
of the Forces, who made repeated comments on it in his re- 
ports to England. In consequence of these reports, the 
company was relieved early in 1822, some months bef( 'r- the 
completion of its tour of service. Its character while m the 
West India command was flatteringly spoken of by Captain 
W. D. Smith, R.E. In one of his communications he wrote, 

' To this company belonged private James Gordon, who lost an eye by 
accident in mining for the foundation of the palace, and was discharged at 
Woolwich .30th Scptenber, 18'iO, with a pension of 9d. a-day. Throughout hig 
service of nine years he was a zealous and exemplar,, soldier, and bore about 
him the stamp and evidcices of a loftier origin than his humble station gave 
reason to expect. Singular events in life sometimes occur that make contrasts 
it times appear almost fabulous. "The soldier turned peer," has hitherto 
been the player's jest, hut it has at last become a veritable reality, for in Sep- 
tember, 1848, this James Gordon, the private soldier, succeeded, as heir to his 
(grandfather to the titles of Viscount Kenmure and Lord Lochinvar. 










s of 





" Its conduct, I have pride in saying, has been most exem- 

Napoleon died at St. Helena on the 5th May, and his re- 
mains were deposited with quiet solemnity in an unpretendin<r 
tomb, shadowed by a willow, in Slane's valley. The company 
of sappers at the station took part in the funereal arrangements. 
The stone vault was built by privates John Warren and James 
Andrews. Tlie body was lowered into its resting-place by two 
privates of the company, and other prl' atcs, appointed for the 
duty, refilled the grr^ve, and secufa all with plain Yorkshire 
slabs. Thus, without epitaph or memorial, were entombed the 
ashes of the most extraordinary man of modern times. As the 
necessity for retaining the comptany, now reduced, by deaths 
and the withdrawal of a detachment in 1819, to twenty-five of 
all ranks, no longer existed, it quitted the island and arrived 
at \Voolwich on the l4th September. Private John Bennett 
was detained for three months after the removal o' the com- 
pany, and during that period he was employed with the (^erk 
of Works, in giving over the stores of the engineer department 
to the Island storekeeper.^ 

Tlie company In Upper Canada changed its head-quarters 
in June, from Kingston to IsIt aux Nolx, and afforded parties 
for s 'vvlce at Quebec and Fori George, both of which were 
->. .filled to Isle aux Nolx in August. In November, 1822, 
'ii< frr iter part of the com])any was removed to Quebec, and 
til ^iiiiinder were retained for the works at Isle aux Nolx. 

troui July to November, a sergeant and nine men, chif'fly 
carpenters and smiths, were emj)loyed by the Board of longi- 
tude under Major Colby and Captain Kater, in tlie operations 
for detenniiiing the difference of longitude between the obser- 
vatories at Paris and Greenwich ; and visited ten of the prin- 

' Was ail pxcpllciit clerk, and became in iime a ritiartermastcr-scrppant. 
Aftci- his discharge from the corps in ISt.'l, he filled, for about ten years, 
important otfices under the Surveyor-Genernl of Prisons, and died while 
steward of DartmiKn- Prison, in February, 18.5.1, from a cold caupht in that 
1' 'aK .irarter. The season was a peculiarly hitter and stormy one, during 
wliicli three sohlicrs of the line, on escort duty, in crossing Dartmoor Heath, 
perished in the snow. 

VOi-. 1. S 




cipal trigonometrical stations in England. Besides attending 
to the laborious requirements of the camp, the party erected 
poles, and constructed stages or platforms wherever needed, on 
commanding sites and towers, for purposes of observation ; and 
were .■ i ■■'' 'sted with the care of the philosophical instru- 
ments. , professional operations of the season they took 
no part.' 

In June, one sergeant and thirty-nine rank and file under 
Captain John Harper, R.E., were detached from Woolwich to 
Feversham, and after destroying the powder-mills and premises 
connected with them, returned to head-cjuarters in September. 

The first company of the corps, which had been at Gibraltar 
since 1772 and was present at the celebrated siege a few years 
afterwards, was removed, in the course of relief, from that for- 
tress to ^V^oolwich in June. 

Breast or belt-plates of brass, in place of buckles, were 
adopted early in the year by permission of General Gother 
Mann. All ranks wore u plate of uniform device and dimen- 
sions, and each soldier paid for his own. The c' 'ice consisted 
of the royal cipher, encircled by the garter, bearing tlie name 
of the corps and surmounted by a crown. 

A fluctuating detachment, not exceeding thirteen masons 
and miners under a corporal, was detached in the autumn from 
Devonport to St. Nicholas Island, and remained there for 
nearly four months repairing the fortifications. 

At the fall of the year the engineer commission to the A\'est 
Indies, composed of (Jolouel Sir James Carmichiicl Smyth, 
Major Fanshawe, and Captain Oldfield inspected, in the course 
of their professional tour, the fourth coirpany of sai)pers stii- 
tioned at Barbadoes under the command of Captain Loyalty 
Peake. Its state was most creditable. Since its Jirrivnl in the 
connnand it had only lost one man and that from an accident. 
Whilst other troops quartered under the same roof were 

' Captain Kater, in his account of the operations published in the ' Philo- 
sopliical Transaction!.,' 1828, p. 153, notices, by mistalie, this party as belonging 
to the royal urtilleiy. Tliere were, it is true, two gunners of the regiment 
pr'Rcnt, but they weie employed as servants to the officers. 








.•ipal trigoiKiractrioal stations in Kncrland. fJosides attending 
to tlio lHlt<>riovr< r<^juirw!i imp, the i«yty erected 

i ■'. ' oiMruottti .:t-5i4;< ~ ;,; jj.aiurms A'hcrti', ..t iii>»h1o<1, oh 

-. ui- uug .sites and towers, for purposoti of ob>*<rr\«»i<m ; and 
wPi'c alat) intnistod witli flu; care of the philosojiliioal instrii- 
menta. In the profcasi'iijal opprationa of the season they took 
no pait.' 

In Jnne, one p»'rj>enia ajtil tki^' .ml: .nid file under 

C-'aptain John iJnqwr, R.E., weru detached fioui SV,»<)hvlL'h to 
revernhaB), and after destroying the puwder-jnilk iUM n,iMnJscs 
counectwl with them, n.tunied Ui head-ttuart«r& ii; iS«j>teniUT. 

The tirst ooiupany of tho corps, wiiich had huen ait (^tbrttltar 
«uce J772 and w.os present at the celebrated sieire a few years 
afterward-H, reuiov( u, in flio course of relief, from tluit for- 
tress to W oolwich in .lunc. 

Breast or bolt-platea of brass, in place, of buckles, \\ ere 
\dopted early in the year by permission of (j!eii;;nd Gotlier 
Maun. .Ml raiikd wore a plate of unitorni device and dimen- 
sions, and each HoUlier jwid for liis own. The device consisted 
of the royal cipher, encircled by the garter In^arip^r tlie name 
of th»i c« j-ps and .-unnounted by a crown. 

A fluctuating detaeluncnt, not exceeding tiiivtti'n niii.sons 
iind minera under a corpornl, v/m detached in the autmnu from 
Uovonpcrt to St. Nichuiay Ishmd, and remained then- '' <■ 
tiearly four months rej)airing the fortiiicatiuns. 

At the fail of the year the engineer commission to the \\ e:?t 
Indies, cou)posed of Colonel Sir Jaiiifs C'anjiJehnel Smyth, 
Major Fanshawe, and (Japtain Oldfieltl /ii.<pected. in the eourse 
of their profefeoi.iual tour, the i'oui'tli cofuipany of sippers nta- 
tioued at BttrWdoes under the n'tnmaivd of i.r'nfrtMU! l^iyalty 
i'eake. Its slRK: wits mtwt tredjtat>le. Sin x' It- *rf«%jd in the 
fonnnand it bad only loal uiu inan and tlia. rvni an accident.- 
Whilst ottwr tw)op» quai't<!red undt)* tbe. same roof were 


* Ca|ifaio Ki't«r, la hiB aimmm. «>: .u. up«friitions pu'ilisUed lu the 'I'hilo- 
sopliical 'I'rausaoiionii,' lSi!S, p. ! JU, lioticcs, b_y mislako, this party as btluiigiui; 
Ui till' loyal anilli-'ry. There were, it is true, two guiint'n> of th« rcgiiiieut 
|ir wiii, bur ila-y wurw oni{il"yo<l as strvalits fo the othcrri!. 






withered and sickly, the sapper? were healthy — a fact that 
was ascribed to the attention of the officers, and the alsence 
amonjT the men of those intemperate habits, which in a hot and 
enervating climate, originate so many ailments. 

The small detachment at the Cape of Good Hope was much 
dispersed at this period. The men detached are traced at 
short intervals at Cape Town, Kaffir Drift, ^Viltshire, Port 
Elizabeth, and New Post Kat River. 

The (Jorfu detachment of seven men was removed to Gibraltar, 
in the 'Frinsbury' transport, in December, and arrived at the 
Rock on the fitli March, 1824, bearing with it records of its 
uniform exemplary conduct and public utility. Being first-rate 
workmen, they were the loading men of their trades, and some 
of the best work at the palace was the result of their supcjrior 
mechanical acquirements and skill. Sergeant John Hall was 
overseer and master carpenter for four years, and corporal 
Andrew Lawson, a man of considerable talent, was clerk of 
works, and also d'rected the masons and bricklayei-s.^ Captain 
Strcatfeild in parting with them, wrote 'They are a very 

' Such was the sense entertained of his services, vhat Sir Frederick Adam, 
the Lord High Coraniissioner, after the detachment had rcvched Malta, recalled 
him to Corfu to superintend the civil works on the island. His position thus 
became anomalous, and, as far as military law and usage are concerned, iiiiex 
amplcd for privilege and emolument. Hesides his regimental pay, he received 
an allowance of .'ts. 3i/. a-day working pay, (afterwards increased to 4s. 3'/. a-day,) 
with a fine residence and free rations for his wife, family, and a servant, lie 
had also a horse and bonts at his command, was relieved from the performanee 
of regimental duty, and was permitted at all timer to wear plain clothes. 
Throughout the building of the palace, the Villa of Cardachio, and other 
important civil buildings, he was the clerk of the works, and Sir Frederic 
Adam took every occasion of applauding his talents and exertions. In April, 
18.'!4, after removal to Woolwich, sergeant Lawson was appointed clerk of 
works at Sierra Leone, where, after a brief period of service, during which he 
was bereaved of his wife, he died, leaving nine orphans to lament his loss. 
His eldest son T>7as nominated to the appointment as the fittest person in the 
colony to disc?)arge its professional duties, but the youth fell a sacrifice to the 
climate four days after his father's decease. The eight remaining orphans 
were generously cared for by Sir Frederic Mulcaster, the inspector-general of 
fortifications and the executive of the corps at the Ordnance Office, who ob- 
tained from the oflicers of royal engince' and the civil gentlemen of the de- 
partment sufficient mt-ans to free them fron that distress, to which the absence 
of this benevolent support wo\il(t have inevitably reduced them. 

s 2 




honest, trustworthy set of mon, and do honour to the corps." 
" The worst nierhaiiic amoii<f thcni," said [iicutcnant G. 
VVhitmore, " would be ahnost invahiablo in the corj)s." Hefore 
the company quitted ('orfu, four deaths liad occurred ; four 
also took place in the small party that remained, one of whom, 
private Gamaliel Ashton, a bricklayer, was killed by falling 
from a scaffold while at work at the palace." 

Second-corporal John Smith was sent from Quebec in the 
summer to examine the freestone quarries of Nova Scotia and 
New Brunswick, and to rc^port upon their capabilities and 
facilities for furnishing stones of certain dimensions for the 
service of the department. He started on his mission in a 
merchant schooner on the 7th August, and, with Captain 
Melville Glenie, of the 60th rifles, was nearly wrecked on the 
Beaumont shoals. The flag of distress and the shouts of the 
passengers being unheeded, corporal Smith procured an old 
musket and some powder, and having with some difficulty fired 
a few rounds from it, the situation of the vessel was observed 
by some pilots, who rescued the i)assengers. Next day the 
corjioral re-embarked on board another vessel, and landing at 
Miramichi, visited the quarries there, and also at Kemshcg, 
Pictou, Mergomish, and Nipisiguit. I^pwards of two months 
were spent in completing his researches ; and, returning to 
Quebec on the 16th October with specimens of the building 
stones and slates taken by him from the various quarries he 
had examined, he made a lucid report of their capabilities, &c., 
and det<iiled the terms upon which the owners of the properties 
were prepared to deal with the department. Colonel Dumford, 
the commanding royal engineer, expressed his entire satisfac- 
tion of the manner in which the duty was perfonncd, and of 
the intelligence evinced by the corporal in his descriptive 

° The remains of all were interred with unusual respcctabiliiy, and the spots 
where they lie have been marked by neat tomb-stones — a graceful tribute from 
the survivors to the memory of the departed. 

' Smith, afterwards a Fergoant, was a first-rate mason and foreman, and 
during his service of thirty two years, twenty-five of which were abroad, his 
abilities, experience, and precision were foimd of great benefit to the depart- 






In September and October trials of the pontoons, inventcil 
res])ectively by Sir James Colleton and Lieutenant-CoKjnul 
Paslfy, were made in the open part of the Medway near the 
Gimwharf, and at Rochester Bridj^e — on the Dth and lOtli 
September, in the presence of a cornniittee of seven officers of 
the royal artillery and royal enjjineers, Lieut.-G"neral (Juppage, 
R.A., being the president ; and on the 1st October in the 
presence of his Royal Highness the Dnke of York. One or 
other of the rival systems was to supersede the use of the old 
English tin pontoons. To work the buoy pontoons of Sir James 
(Colleton, seamen were lent from II. M.S. ' Prince Regent.' 
The third and sixth companies were emjjloyed with (.'olonel 
Pasley's decked canoes. The mana'uvres were exceedingly 
laborious, and the men were exposed a greater part of each 
day to very heavy rains. Tiiey not only, iiowever, did every- 
thing to the satisfaction of his Royal Highness and of the 
officers composing the committee, but several distinguished 
naval officers declared it Wiis impossible that any o})erations 
with lK)ats could have been better or more quickly perfonued.'* 

From early in November to the 21st .Tanuary, 1825, a jiarty 
of ten privates with second-corporal Itobert Shorter, was em- 
ployed at Sheerness under the connnand of Lieutimant E. \V. 
Durnford, RE., in boring to ascerhiin the nature of the strata 
with a view to determine its practicability for building some 

meat. At Corfu, Vido, and Zuute, he was entrusted witli very important 
duties. Subsequently to his discharge in 1842 on a pension of i!s. 3^/. a-day, 
he superintended, on the part of the Admiralty, the building of the royal 
marine barracks at Woolwich by contract, anil his vigilance prevented the 
employment of any of those artifices so commonly resorted to by contractors. 
He afterwards superintended for the Uuke of Uuckingham Ihe building of a 
circular redoubt, partly of stone, for six guns, at his Grace's ducal residence at 
Stowe ; and in the inscription on one of the piers, hi.s name is thus associated 
with the work: — 

Richard Plantagenet 

Duke of Uuckingham & Chandos. 

Robert Wilcox, Captain Royal Navy, 

John Smith, Sergeant R' Sappers and Miners. 

" Pasley's 'Narrative of Operations with the New Pontoons,' 1824. Sir 
James Colleton's ' 13uoy Pontoons.' 




permanent works of defi'iioo. The borinpa were carried on at 
all the !>aliont ]H)inta of the conteinijlated fortifications, rniiginjr 
in (le))th from thirty to sixty feet IJorinffs were also made on 
the Isle of Grain, and the men of the l)arty were occasionally 
employed at their trades in the enffineer department. Corjjoral 
Shorter rejjistered the daily ])ro}?re8s and resnlta of the opera- 
tion f bnt, although the intended works were never undertaken, 
the horinjrs were not without interest in addinj?' their cpiota 
of infornmtion to the cumulative discoveries of fireological re- 

The leather forajjc cap Introduced in 1813, was this year 
superseded by a dark blue cap, called the Kilmarnock bonnet, 
with a yellow band manufactured in the web, and a peak and 
chin-strap. The crown was of immense circumference. See 
Plate XIII. The corporals wore the chevrons of their rank 
above tlie peak. The superior ranks had blue cloth caps, with 
peaks, chin-straps, and gold lace bands. The Kilmarnock 
bonnets were purchased by the men ; the Icatlier caps had 
been supplied by the public. 

About this ])eriod the army pattern sword for staff-sergeants 
and sergeants was adopted in the corps ; but tlie swords intro- 
duced for the buglers were of the artillery pattern. 

" Shorter was afterwards stationed for fourteen years at Corfu. For seven 
of his twenty-seven years' service he filled the office of (luartermastcr-sergeant, 
and was honoured with an annuity and medal for his meritorious conduct. Ho 
retired from the sappers on hcing appointed a Yeoman of the Queen's Guard, 
and was the first non-commissioned officer of the corps who received a nomi- 
nation to that ancient company. While he was all that could he desired in his 
corps in respect to efficiency and intelligence, in private life he was a thorough 
humourist, and the most simple incident, with scarcely an element for merriment 
in it, hccame by bis droll inventorial recital, a subject of the richest amusement. 






penuaucnt wwrtw «f dcftmce. 'Hie kirii^ were caiTied on at 
all tlui !*a!»eni |*r«i:t!H!t' tb«.(X)Bte!iJ:|fel*»<^ furtifiaUiojis, ranfi^iiig 
in dt^i^th tffj-ni thirty 1m iixty feet llpriiirp' were abo made on 
fHi i;4e of (jrain, and tlio mcTi of the party wire t)c<^ jonally 
li U>ye<l at tlioir trades in the engineer depanniont. Corjioral 
Shorter rogLsterctl the liaily progress and results of the ojjcra- 
tion f lint- ;ilt.h(('U'h tlse intended 'vcirks were never nndertaken, 
till' t.iir'r,; •■• ■■ t.,:f vU!iiii;t !nf»«r '•: 'm, -I'lilinG their quota 
I'! i.i , ■ . t.'jHilofiicttl re- 

' .■■u .i.'atii'.'r iofiijri! cap iiitroduct'.u n; i;->l,>, was p- war 
supfir«ed(vl in- -i «i»-(< blue ctip, cjilled tin* Kilmariivwik bt^nnet, 
with •? ,^ ' vturod in the web, and a jM-ftk ac<i 

chiii-.4i,i|.. li!c crown was of immense circumference. St^e 
Plate XIII. T!u' inrjxirals wore th^ lievTuns of tlieir rank 
alwi-re the pefik. I i > , nor ranks had blue cloth capp, witii 
peakfc, chin-strajw, and gold lace bauds. The Kilmarnock 
bonnets were purchased by the men ; . the leatiier cajw had 
becii supplied by the ])uhUc. 

ASkmii this jKirifKl the army pattern swoid for staffraerKeants 
and sergeants was rtdvptini in the cotp» ; but ttw; r ..irdji uitro- 
dt«%l for ihi> b!,.f'er3 were of tiie artillery jvittcru 

" Short* ' : : -.varUs atationvd for fonnoen years- at tlorfti. For seven 

of his ttrenty-scveu years' ho tJUfil tlje oflicc of quartcnniustor-sergtant, 
and was Iioni>mv<J wivh an ananity ind nifldul for his meritorious cniKliict. 11* 
rttirc'il from the sn;ipor«i nn twiiig appointed a Yeomau of the Qne(!ii'!i Onard, 
und »va3 the first noji-oommissioRwi offieci- of the corps wlio n'ceived a nomi- 
nation U> that ancient company. While lie was all ihnt.oouid \k defiirttl iii ln< 
corps in rosppct to effioiuncy and intelligt'xioc, i.i private life he wa.^ ;i thorough 
humourist, and the most simple lacidtut, with scare* ly au r Icrnent for merriment 
in it, liHcaino by hisi droll inventorial rt/^ital, a subji-ct of the ricbt>st amiHrfr/wM. 




Dress— Curtailment of benefits by the change— Chacos— Survey of Ireland— 
Formation of the first company for the duty — Establishment of corps; com- 
pany to Corfu— Second company for the survey— Kffbrts to complete the 
companies raised for it — Pontoon trials in presence of the Duke of Wellington 
— Western Africa — Third company for the survey ; additional working pay 
— Employments and strength of the sappers in Ireland -Drummond Light; 
Slieve Snacht and Divis — Endurance of private Alexander Smith — Wreck of 
' Shipley ' transport — lierbice ; Corporal Sirrell at Antigua. 

Eauly in the year the breeches, lonjr iraiters, and shoes, ceased 
to be woni by the coqis, and in their stead were 'istituted 
light blue trousers, with scarlet st.-'pes, and short >\ I'llinjjton 
boots. Tlie cfi'itee was strlpt of its frogging on the hreast ; 
and the skirts, with the shishes sewn transversely on the loinx, 
were lengthened to the swell of the tiiigh. White turnbacks 
were added to the inner edges of the skirt^s and brass grenades 
united the turnbacks near the bottom of the skirts. The work- 
ing jacket was simply altered in the collar fi'om the open to 
the close Prussian fashion, and the working trousers were dyed 
of a dee))er grey. — See Plate XIII. 

These alterations were followed by curtailments of benefits 
heretofore enjoyed by the corps, inasmuch as the stockings, 
shirts, and forage cajis, amuially issued with the clothing, ceased 
to be provided at the jiublii- expense. The allowances for oil 
and enn^ry, and shoes, were also abolished ; but in lieu of the 
one ])air of shoes fonnerly issued, and the compensation for a 
second pair, the corps had the advantage of receiving, yearly, 
two pairs of short Wc'lington boots. 

Tlie low chaco of 1817 gave place to one of about ten inches 





in lieij^ht, bearino; a goose feather of a foot long in an exploded 
grenade. The ornaments consisted of seniles secured by lions' 
heads, the garter and motto encircling the royal cipher sur- 
mounted by a crown, and also a cluster of forked lightning^ 
winged. For protection to the neck in wet weather, a var- 
nished canvas v,ar-cover was attivched to the back of the ca]). — 
See Plate Xlll. The ornaments on the statf-sergeants' chacos 
were of excellent gilt, and a band of rich silk, embossed with 
acorns and oak leaves around the top of the cap, gave it an 
elegant appearance. The sergeants' ornaments wjre manufac- 
tured of a metid resembling copper, and the black bands were 
of plain narrow silk. Both ranks wore white heckle feathers. 

In June, l^^-t, a committee of the House of Commons 
reconmiended the trigonometrical survey of Ireland, with the 
view of apportioning oijually the local burdens, and obtaining a 
general valuation of the whole country. The measure was 
sanctioned, and Cclonel Thomas Colby, R.E., was ajjpointed to 
superintend the work. It being intended that the survey should 
be conducted under military supervision, Major William Reid 
suggested the advantage to be derived from the co-operation 
of the royal sa])pers and miners in carrying out its subordinate 
details. Colonel Colby after due reflection, the result of a dis- 
cussion of nearly six weeks' duration with Major Reid, con- 
sidering the plan to be not only practicable but desirable, made 
known liis wishes to the Duke nf WeUington, then Master- 
General of the Ordnance, and on the 1st IX'cember, 1^24, his 
Grace obtained a royal warrant for the fornuitlon of a company 
of sixty-two non-commissioned oflScers and men, to be employed 
in the operations of the survey in Ireland.' 

This company was at once organized at Chatliam ; and the 
men, selected from the most intelligent of the corps at the 
station, were specially trained for the duty by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Pasley. It, however, remained for Colonel Colby, in 
giving effect to his great and comjirehcnsive sy^tem, to develop 
and enlarge the acquirements and efficiency of the men, by 

' ' lieport Army iiiul Ordimuce Expenditure,' Minutes nf Kvidenee, p. 017. 
■ Naval and Military Cjazette.' l'asluy"s 'Mil. I'olicy,' Introd., p. 37, 4th edit. 










adapting them to the"various details and necessities of this 
novel service. In doing so he encountered difficulties of no 
ordinary character ; but eventually he succeeded in achieving 
the end he sought, not without credit to the mass whom he 
moulded and fashioned to the purpose, as well as great honour 
to himself. 

By the augmentation of this company the establishment of 
the corps was increased to thirteen companies, of 814 of all 
ranks, including the staff. The first detachment of one colour- 
sergeant and twenty rank and file was conveyed to Dublin in 
March under the command of Lieutenant Edward Vicars, R.E., 
and was soon removed from Mountjoy to Dromore, where, in 
April, further reinforcements arrived, completing the comi)any 
to its establishment ; and the whole were distributed in small 
sections to iVntrim, Belfast, Coleraine, Dungiven, London- 
derry, &c., from whence the corps, by degrees, traced its 
progress all over Ireland. Mtijor Reid was aj)j)ointed to 
command the first survey company, which was numbered tlie 

On the 24th March, the sixth company, of sixty-two total, 
sailed for Corfu on board the ' Baltic' merchant transport, and 
landed there on the 14th May. This addition to the command 
was made at tiie instance of the Ionian government for the 
purpose of executing tlie works and fortifications at Corfu and 
Vido. By the warrant for raising this company, dated 4th 
April, 1825, the corps mustered fourteen companies, and 
counted 87G officers and soldiers of all ranks. All the regi- 
mental and 'working disbursements of the company, and of 
others arriving at tlie station in periodical relief, were for a 
uumber of years paid from the Ionian exchequer. 

While the instruction of the first survey company was still 
in progress, steps were taken for the formation of another com- 
pany for the same service. The Duke of ^^\'llington expressed 
his conviction of tlie propriety of the measure from tlie sfitis- 
factory iidvancement already made in the ])rot'essioiial education 
of the comiiany raised for the duty early in the year. C)n tlie 
4tli Ajjril, 1825, therefore, his Grace obtained another warrant 




for the employment of a second company in the operations of 
the survey of Great Britain and Ireland. This company was 
numbered the fourteenth ; and being of the same numerical 
organization as the other companies, viz., sixty-two men, the 
establishment of the corps was raised from 876 to 938. 

At Harwich, Hull, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Liverpool, Corn- 
wall, Fort George, as well as in London and Edinburgh, 
recruiting for these companies was carried on very briskly. 
Recruiting at Dublin was also permitted ; and some draftsmen 
from the Dublin Society School were, about this period, 
enlisted for the survey companies. The Military Asylum at 
Chelseji and the Hibernian School were likewise cimvassed to 
procure eligible boys for training; but such was the circum- 
scribed nature of the education imparted to the children at 
Chelsea, that of the number selected to join the comi)anies, a 
few only were found that gave promise of future aptitude and 
usefulness ; and of those who succeeded, none ever distinguished 
themselves by their talents. From the Hibernian School ten 
boys were received, all of whom were clever and intelligent ; 
but one lad far outshone his comrades, and in time, by his zeal, 
extensive mathematical attainments, and varied acipiiremcnts, 
gained the highest position in the sappers on the survey. The 
person alluded to is Quartermaster William Young. 

The fourteenth company quitted Chatham for the survey, and 
landed at Belffist, its first head-quarters, on the 15th July. 

On the 2Gt'i September, a trial of the capabilities of the 
jHintoons invented by Sir James Colleton, Colonel Pasley, and 
^Nlajor Blanshard, took place at Chatham in the presence of the 
Duke of \\'ellington ; and the men of the corps employed on 
the occasion displayed much zeal, spirit, and activity. Sergeant 
Jenkin Jones was particularly praised for his conduct in ma- 
naging the pontoons of Major Blanshard ; and as the Master- 
General arrived a day earlier than was expected, and ordered 
at night the exhibition to take place the next morning, much 
of the success of the eftbrts in favour of the cylindrical pontoons 
is ascribed to the sergeant's able and zealous arrangements 
and personal exertions. This induced Colonel Pasley to re- 






commend sergeant Jones as a non-commissioned officer fit to be 
entrusted with any difficult or important detached duty, which 
mijiht save the services of an officer. One private, William 
Berry, fell from a raft during the trial, and was drowned. 

Sergeant William Addison and second-corporal James 
AMiite embarked at Portsmouth on board the ' I)esj)atch ' in 
November for the coast of Africa, and were employed under the 
direction of Cajrtain 11. Boteler, II.E., in surveying the British 
de])endencies and forts at Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast. 
The corporal died on the service, and the sergeant landed at 
Portsmouth 10th August, 1826, and rejoined his corps. 

A third survey company, of sixty-two non-commissioned 
officers and men, was formed in December, under a royal 
warrant, dated 20th October, 1825, and was numbered the 
sixteenth. The establishment of the corps was thus augmented 
from !)38 to 1,000 officers and soldiers. The rates of working 
])ay authorized by the successivi; warrants were limited to the 
three ordinary classes of GcL, dd., and Is. a-day ; but extra- 
ordinary powers were granted to (Jolonel Colby, of awarding 
increased rates, jjroportionate to tlic attainments and exertions 
of the men, up to '2s. a-day. The maximum allowance was 
rarely bestowed, and then only upon non-commissioned officers, 
whose undoubted talents and services rendered them deserving 
'^f the distinction which the exclusiveness conferred. 

By the end of the year the eft'ectivc men on the survey 
counted 109 of all ranks, who were chiefly dispersed in the 
field. Several were emnloyed in offices as draftsmen and com- 
puters ; but at this period very few were intrusted with 
any particular responsibility. Civilian assistants, for the most 
part, were second to the officers, and aided in superintending 
the management of the districts ; but in the field, the sappers 
took the lead as surveyors, never working as chainmen, or 
subordinately to the civilians. As the duty was new, their 
([ualifications required tact and practice before a fair return of 
progress could be realized. In August very few had proved 
themselves of sufficiently matured aciiuiremeuts to merit ad- 



vancement to Colonel Colby'a classes, and five only of the 
number had graduated as far as Is. id. a-day. 

The third survey company proceeded to Ireland in Sep- 
tember. In December the total force there imnibered 129 of 
all ranks, and 61 men were under training at Ciiatham. 

At the close of the year a party of the corps was attached to 
Captain Drummond to assist him in carrying on experiments 
and observations with his lamp and heliostat. The observing 
station was on Divis Mountain, near Belfast, and the season 
was fearfully inclement. Frequently the mountain and the 
camp were enveloped in snow, and the blowing of a keen cold 
wind made their situation anything but agreeable. On two or 
three occasions a storm visited their desolate location, and 
carried away in its blast, tents, baggage;, and stores. Still tiie 
men were sturdy in frame, willing in disposition, and exerted 
themselves in the discharge of their duties under trials of no 
ordinary character. A few men of the party, thirteen in 
number, were removed to Slieve Snacht in Donegal, to exhibit 
the light, that it might be observed from Divis. Tiie distance 
between the heights was sixty-six miles. The camp on Snacht 
was at an altitude of 2,000 feet, and the party peculiarly ex- 
posed. Few in number, they were ill able to buffet with the 
tempests of those cold regions; "'and the tents were so fre- 
quently blown down," and had become so shattered and torn, 
" that, after the first few days, they abandoned them, and con- 
structed huts of rough stones, filling the interstices with turf." 
On this bleak mountain the success of the light was first proved. 
At night the lamp was directed on Divis. It was then dark, 
and both the camps were covered with snow. The wind blew 
piercingly over the mountain tops, and almost flayed the faces 
of the men as they worked. But it was on that stormy night 
that the light, first seen by the sapper sentry, "burst into view 
with surpassing splendour," and afterwards beaune one of the 
most useful agencies in the prosecution of the survey.^ 

Of this mountain }>arty one man in ])articular was noticed 
' ' Prof. Papers,' iv. ; preface, pp. aiv. xvii. 




for liis hardihood and endurance. This was private Alexander 
Smith. In the mornin<r he would leave the camp, and, after 
journeying about twenty miles, return to the heiglit weighed 
down with a mule's load, and on gaining the summit, would 
after relieving himself of his burden, resume his work in the 
camp, without exhibiting any symptoms of fatigue, or evincing 
a desire for rest. On one occasion, having been at Buncrana, 
about ten miles from the station, he was returning late with his 
freight, comprising a side of nmtton, a jar of spirits, a number 
of lesser articles, and a bag of letters. Wrapped up in his 
greatcoat, and his cap jJuUed over his ears, he commenced to 
pick his way up the ascent ; but the tempest beat against him, 
the piercing wind opposed his progress, and the snow covered 
alike the lone traveller and the waste. As he encountered this 
war of elements, darkness closed upon him, and, losing his 
track, he passed the night exposed to the pitiless storm, 
wandering about on the mountain. At day-break he crawled 
into the camp a picture tliat gave a melancholy interest to the 
wild landscape around ; but such was his endurance, and such 
his fortitude, that beyond the pain of humbness, he felt no in- 
convenience from the sufferings and exertions of that dreadful 
night. The devotion of this man was the admiration of Captain 
Drmnmond, and his promotion to second-corporal wjis the 
reward of his willing zeal. Ultimately he reached the rank of 
sergeant, and was discharged in October, 1839, from a chest 
complaint, which traced its origin to his labours and exposure 
on Slieve Snacht. 

Tiie third company, of sixty strong, under Lieutenant Gre- 
gory, K.E., embarked at Woolwich, 26th Februfiry, on board 
the ' Shipley ' transport for the West Indies, and was wrecked 
on the morning of the 19th April on the Cobbler's Rocks near 
Barbadoes. The ship had made the land at half-past ten 
o'clock the preceding evening, and, hauling up to S.S.E., the 
agent on board counselled that the ship should stand off till 3 
o'clock. Soon after 12 iit night, the master, contrary to the 
naval officer's advice, ordered the ship to stand for the land, 
and went to bed, leaving in chai-ge a man who soon becauie 




intoxicated and fell asleep. Thus left to herself, the vessel 
got out of her course, and about S a.m. dashed with a frightful 
crash upon the reef. At this time it was j)itch dark, and the 
frequency of the shocks sjtlit and tore the ship in every direction. 
While the crew and the sappers were getting tackle ready to 
hoist the long-boat out, the cook-house caught fire, but it was 
promptly extinguished with wet blankets and sails. The fresh- 
ness of the wind driving the sea against the shore, and the 
steepness of the cliti's rthich were higher than the ship's royal 
mainmast, made it ii ipracticable to land a boat ; but the 
boatswain, Uiking with )iim a deep sea-line, gained a craggy 
pinnacle on the rocks, and throwing it to a black lishermau on 
the top, who chanced to reach the spot at the moment, a six- 
inch tow-line was quickly passed to him, by which the troops, 
with their wives and families, in slings and cradles, worked 
themselves to the summit of the precipice. In ten minutes 
after the 'Shipley' became a total wreck, and the com])any 
lost its entire baggage, equipment, &c. Lieutenant Gregory 
was the last to quit the sinking ship. I3eing almost naked and 
barefooted, a number of greatcoats and anqjle hind-carriage 
were sent for the company ; and in this state, under an oppres- 
sive sun, they reached their quarters at St. Anne's on the 
evening of tlie I'Jth April.^ 

A party of this company was constantly detached to Berbice 
for the service of the engineer department ; and scccmd-corporal 
Thomas Sirrell, an able artificer, su])erintended the construction 
of the iron hospital at Antigua, where he died. To acquire a 
knowledge of tlie application of iron to be used in the erection 
of barracks in the ^^'est Indies, he had been specially employed 
for six months under Lieutenant Brandreth in the foundries at 

' ' Morning Herald,' June f), 18'.'6. 

1827. 1 




Augmentation — Reinforcement to Hermiida— Companies for Rideau Canal — 
lieinforcenient to the ("ape— Monument to tlie memory of General Wolff — 
Inerease to the survey companies — Supernumerary promotions — Measure- 
ment of I.ough Foyle liase— Suggestion of sergeant Sim for measuring across 
tlie river Roe— Survey companies inspected by Major-General Sir .lames 
C. Smyth; oi)ini(m of their services hy Sir Henry Hardingc- Sergeant- 
major Townsend — Demolition of the (ilacirre liastion at (Quebec — Hanijuet 
to fifth company hy Lord Dalhousie— Service of the sappere at the citadel 
of (Quebec — Notice of sergeants Dunnett and .lohn Smith — Works to be 
executed by contract— Trial of pontoons, and exertions of corporal .lames 
Forbes — Epidemic at Gibraltar — Island of Ascension; corporal Real — 
Forage-caps — Company witjidrawn from Nova Scotia — Party to Sandhurst 
College, and usefulness of corporal Forbes. 

GuEAT iuconvcnioncc was felt in carrying on the puitlic works 
abroad, from the inadi'tjiiacy of the strenirtli of the corps to 
sujjply the number of workmen for services in which their em- 
ployment would have been useful and economical ; and as very 
iieavy exijcnses had been incurred, in having recourse to a 
greater proportion of civil workmen, at high wages, than woidd 
otherwise have been necessiiry. General Gothcr Mann, in July, 
1H2G, submitted some suggestions on the subject to the Master- 
General and Board, and obtained their authority to carry out 
his plans. 

In December, consequently, orders were given for the forma- 
tion of a company of f^l strong, for emj)loyment on the works 
at Bermuda, and for augmenting the comj)auy already there 
from 51 to 70 privates. The company was accordingly formed 
in January, 1827, and with the reinforcement to complete the 
other company, sailed from Dcvonport in the ' Hebe ' freight- 
ship, find landed at Bernuida on the 25th of May. The 




sappers at tho station were then divided between St. George's 
and Ireland Island. 

A royal warrant, dated 2ritli March, 1827, confirmed the 
raising of the company for Bermuda, and ordered a fnrther 
augmentation of two companies of eighty-one^ strong each for 
the works of the llideau (.^anal in Oanada. The fifteenth and 
seventeenth companies were a])p()inted for this service ni.der 
Captiiins Victor and Savage, ll.E. The former landed then* 
from the 'Southworth' transport on the 1st of .lime, and the 
latter from the ' Hay don,' on the 17th of Scptemher.' The 
estahlishment of the corps now reached ninet'jen companies, and 
counted, of all ranks, 1 ,2C)2. 

Tho sappers at the Cape of Good Hope were reinforced to 
thirty of all ranks hy the arrival of one sergeant and eleven 
privates in August. At this period the men were chiefly em- 
ployed at (-ape Town and CJraham's Town. Occasionally, 
men are traced at Wyid)erg, Francli Iloek, and Simon's Town. 
The detachment rendered essential aid in the execution of the 
services of the engineer de[)artment, and the necessity for 
maintaining its numerical efficiency was represented by Major 
GcMieral Bourke and Tword Charles Somerset. 

The fifth coni])any at Quebec, on the 15th of November, 
1827, was present at the laying of the foundation stone of the 
mommient erected to the memory of General A\'^olfc. All the 
masonic tools required for the ceremony were made by men of 
the comjtany, and the stone was lowered into its bed by some 
selected masons with colour-sergeant Dunnctt. The fonnal 
laying of the stone was accomplished by the Earl of Dalhonsie 
and Mr. James Thompson, a venerable man in the ninety-fifth 
year of his age, the only survivor in ('anada of the memorable 
battle of Quebec, in which Wolfe fell. A few days afterwards, 
the silver trowel used on the occasion was generously presented 
by his lordship to sergeant Dunnett. 

Great interest was taken by the Duke of Wellington in the 

' On the removal of the fifteenth company to Canada in March, the Ports- 
mouth station was without a company until November, 1827, when the eleventli 
company was sent there from Chatham. 

1827. j 



survey of Ireland, and he was anxious that it sliouhl be prose- 
cuted witli all possible despatch. Aufjmcnting and completing the 
three compai7ics being considered the moat important means to 
facilitate that v)bject, his Grace and the Honourable Board, on 
the 1st Januiiry, sjinctioned an increase to the survey compa- 
nies of nineteen privates each, and on the 13th of March, a 
further addition of thirty privates ; both of which augmented 
the survey force from 186 to 273 of all ranks, and the establish- 
ment of the corpni from 1,262 to 1,341) officers and men. 

At the commciiccment of the survey, all promotion was sus- 
pended for a time, to enable Colonel Colby to select the ablest 
men for preferment. lie found great difficulty in choosing indi- 
1. iduals qualified for it ; but in Ijss than two years after, so satis- 
f tory was the improvement mjide in the atfciinments and 
efficiency of the companies, that the Colonel felt it essential to 
create by authority, supernumerary aj)pointmcnts as a reward 
for pjist diligence and an incitement to future exertion. This 
measure was the more necessary, as the most important part 
of the work was performed by the non-commissioned officers, 
who were mostly detached in charge of small parties of the 
corps with an equal number of civil chainmen. Each non- 
commissioned officer was thus the chief executive of a certain 
portion of work, and was responsible for its correct and rapid 
execution to the officers of the divisions. On the 17th of 
January, the supeniumerary appointments were sanctioned by 
the Duke of Wellington without limit as to number, and 
Colonel Colby made ample use of the reward. The advantage 
enjoyed by the supernumeraries extended only to pay, they 
receiving the rate of the rank to which they were appointed. 
Service in the supernumerary grades did not reckon for their 
l)enefit towards pension. 

From the 6th of September, 1827, to the 20tli of November, 
1828, with occasional intervals of cessation, a detachment 
varying from two sergeants and twenty-three rank and file, to 
two sergeants and six rank and file, were employed on the 
measurement of Lough Foyle base in the county of London- 
derry. A strong detachment of the royal artillery was also 

VOL. I. T 




employed on this service. Tiie duties of the sappers did not 
extend to the sc" mtific and more precise details of the operation, 
but were limited to those subsidiary services which were essential 
to the rigid execution of the form :;. I'heir attention, in fact, was 
confined to the labours of the camp, the placement of the trian- 
gular frames, pickets, trestles, and such other incidental services 
as were indispensable to obtain an exact level alignment for the 
api lication of the measuring bars. A non-commissioned officer 
invariably attended ^o the adjusting screws ; another frequently 
registered the observations, another attended to the set of the 
rollers and the regulation of the plates ; and a fourth, with a 
few men, erected the base tents, moved them forward to the 
succeeding series of bars, and looked to the security of the 
apparatus for the night.^ All these duties, though of a subor- 
dinate nature, nevertheless required the exercise of i'.telligence, 
and much careful attention en the part of those employed. 

In connexion with the base opevations, the name of sergeant 
Thomas Sim of the corps, is noticed with credit. Carrying 
the measurement across the river Roe, about 450 feet broad, 
was, through his ingenuity, found a more simple matter than had 
been expected. After giving a good deal of consideration to the 
subject, the sergeant proposed a plun, whicli enabled the mea- 
surement tfj be completed in one day and verified the next. Tliii^ 
was accoUiplished, by driving, with the assistance of a small pile 
engine, scout ])iekets to the depth of about six foot into the 
sand and clay, in the exact line of the baso, then placing on the 
heads of the pickets, by means of a mortice, a stretcher per- 
fectly horizontal, and finally, laying upon the upper surfaces of 
the stretchers, a simple rectan;.' ':ir frame, with two cross pieces 
to support the feet of the camels or tripods.' 

By the month of August, the force of the sappers in Ireland 
amounted to 2t) non-commissioned officers, 227 privates, 6 
buglers and 11 boys, total 270. In September, the survey 
toinpanics were inspected by Major-General Sir James 
CarmJcluiel Smyth, royal engineers, and in his report he stated, 
" when the detached nature of the duty is considered, and how 
" Yollaiid's ' Lough Foyle Base,' p. 25-27. " Ibid., p. 28. 




the soldier is necessarily left to himself, the appearance of the 
men under arms, as well as the zeal and goodwill they evince 
in the performance of a duty so new and so laborious, are very 
much to their credit." In March previously. Sir Henry 
Hardinge, in his evidence before the Select Committee on 
Public Income and Expenditiu-e, spoke of the services of the 
corps on the survey, as being cheap and successful. To put 
the fjUestion fairly at issue, certain districts of the same nature 
we.e conducted, some by engineers with sappers and miners ; 
others, with engineer officers and civil persons and it was 
satisfactorily proved, that the progi-ess made by the sjippers 
under military authority, was greater than that made by the 
civil surveyors, and the cheapness commensi"'"'*'^.^ 

On the 24th of January, sergeant-major Thomas Townsend 
was removed from the corps as second lieutenant and adjutant 
to the second battalion, 60th royal rifles, through the interces- 
sion of Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzgerald who coroiuanded that 
regiment, and in the lapse of years became a captain. In 
1844, he retired from the regiment by the sale of his commis- 
sion, and obtained a barrack-mastership under the d • Lnance. 

To proceed with the formation of a new citadel at Quebec, 
it became necessary to reraove a portion of the old French 
works called the Glaciere Bastion, comprising the face and 
flank, about 260 feet in length and 25 feet in height, to give 
place to a new counterguard intended to cover the escarp of 
both faces of Dalhousie Bastion from the high ground on the 
plains of Abraham. This was done by mining, in which service 
the fifth company of the corps was employed. The whole 
operations being completed with the desired efiiciency by the 
lOth of February, the Fail of Dalhousie, then Governor-General, 
accompanied by his staff and a vast assemblage of civil and mili- 
tary persons, attended to witness the demolition. The mines 
were to have been fired at three points to insure the entire mass 
coming down at once, but the sapper ' stiitioned at the third 
mini!, without waiting for the necessary signals, applied his 

* 'Sewnd Ref irt Orduauce lipiiiuates,' 1828, printed 12th June, l^SS, 
p. 71, li. ' Corporal Daniel Brown. 




match to the charge, and the whole of the mines, twenty in 
number, were simultaneously exploded, crumbling the escarp 
to pieces, without projecting a stone fifty feet from its original 
position, and levelling at one crash the whole of the work. The 
effect produced far surpassed the expectations of the officers 
employed. Of the services of the company, the commanding 
royal engineer, in his orders of the day, thus exjjresscd him- 
self : " To colour-sergeant Dunnett, sergeant Young, acting- 
sergeant Smitii, and the non-commissioned officers and privates 
of the fifth company, Colonel Durnford begs that Captain 
Melhuish will convi-y his high ajjprobation of the zeal and 
ability witli which they have performed this portion of practical 
duty, and to assure them, that a report of it shall be made to 
the Inspector-General of Fortifications, in order that the success 
of the operations may be recorded to the credit of the fifth 
company."" To mark his sense of the services of the sappers 
on the occasion, the Earl of Dalhousie, in a style of rare muni- 
ficence, entertained them with a ball and supper on the evening 
of the 7th of March, in the casemated barracks erected by 
themselves in the citadel. All the wives, families, and friends 
of the company attended. Sir Noel and Lady Hill, the 
Honourable Colonel and Mrs. Gore, Captain Maule, aide-de- 
camp to his Excellency, the officers of royal engineers and 
artillery, and several oflficers of the garrison were present. 
After supper, the officers of the company and gentlemen 
visitors took their stations at the head of the table, and at the 
call of Captain Melhuish, the usual toasts were disposed of 
After due honour had been paid to the toast for the health of 
the Earl of Dalhousie, Captain Maule then rose and spoke as 
follows : — 

" Sergeant Dunnett and soldiers of the fifth company of royal 
sappers and miners, nothing will be more agreeable to me, than 
the duty of reporting to his lordship, the Commander of the 
Forces, the manner in which you have drunk his health. The 
trait in a soldier's character, which above all others, recom- 
mends him to the notice .if his General, is a cordial co-operation 
' ' Memoir ot a Practice in Mining at Quebec' 




on his part, heart and hand, in the undertaking of his officers 
more imiTKidiately placed over him. Tiie fifth company of royal 
sappers and miners have ever eminently displayed this fcling, 
hut on no occasion more conspicuously than lately in the demo- 
lition of the old fortifications. The skill with which this work 
was devised, the zeal and rapidity with which it was executed, 
and the magnificent result, will long remain a memorial of all 
employed in it ; and if I may judge from the manner in which 
you have done honour to his lordship's health, this mark of his 
approbation has not been bestowed on men who will soon forget 
it. 1 beg all present will join me 'n drinking the health of 
Captain Melhuish, the officers, non-commissioned officers, and 
privates of the fifth company of royal sappers and miners." 

Tiianks being returned for the company by Captain Melhuish, 
sergeant Dunnett, in a most soldierlike manner, gave the health 
of the ladies and gentlemen who had honoured the company 
with their presence. Soon after, the company retired to the 
ball-room, accompanied by the officers and their ladies, and the 
festive entertainment was kept up with spirit and propriety until 
five o'clock the next morning.' 

In the erection of the citadel at Quebec, the sappers were 
constantly engaged, and some of its chief work was executed 
by them. The superintendence was carried on by the non- 
commissioned officers — colour-sergeant Dunnett' and actinjr- 
sergeant .John Smith " being the princijial foremen. Soon after 
the arrival of the company, Mr. Hare,'" the foreman of works at 
Quebec, died ; and on the com])letion of the works at Kingston, 
the master nuison there was sent to Quebec ; but so efficiently 
had the masons' and bricklayers' work been executed under 

' 'Quebec Mercury,' February, 1828. 

" Was the priucipal military Ibremau, and bad under his charge from 100 
to 21)0 masons, willi thei" labourers. In the arrangement and management of 
this working force be displayed much tact and judgment, and bis woik was 
always laid out aud executed with exactness and success. For his services he 
received a gratuity and medal and a pension of Is. lo^i/. a-day in April, 1834. 
He was soon afterwards appointed foreman of masons in Canada, where he died. 

" See page 200. 

'" .losepb Hare had formerly been a sergeant in the corps, and on his dis- 
charge in October, 1822, was ap|)oiiited foreman of masims at Quebec. 




military supervision, that Colonel Durnford, the commatiding 
royal engineer, ordered the recently-arrived master mason to 
attend to the repairs of the old fortifications and buildings, and 
not to interfere with the superintendents at the new citadel. 
The company quitted Quebec in October, 1831, with an excellent 
character, both as workmen and soldiers. Only five men had 
deserted during the period of the station, two of whom were 
recovered to the service and pardoned by the Earl of Dalhousie. 
This was another proof of his lordship's high estimation of the 
cervices and conduct of the company. 

A select committee on public income and expenditure sat 
early this year to scrutinize the Ordnance estimates. By this 
committee the duties and services of the corps were considered. 
In the report upon the evidence adduced, the committee 
strongly recommended that all work which admitted of being 
measured should be done by contract, and that the sappers and 
miners employed on buildings at day-work should be dimi- 
nished." Tlie effect of this measure was simply to confine the 
labours of the corps to the repairs and fortifications, and 
occasionally to building, without reducing its numerical esta- 

Another trial of pontoons took place at Chatham in July, and 
the exertions of the detachment employed on the occasion under 
Captain J. S. Macauley, R,E., were warmly acknowledged by 
Sir James Ci^llcton, one of the competitors. Captain White of 
the royal statf corps, who was engaged on the part of Sir James, 
thus wrote of the sappers : — " During my long acquaintance 
with military men, I never witnessed in any troops a greater 
determination to perform to the utmost of their power the duty 
on which they wore placed. Where all have done their duty 
with such energy, I cannot make any distinction in conveying 
tc you my good witches towjirds them, except in the conduct of 
corporal James Forbes, who appears to nie to be a first-rate 
non-commissioned oflicer, and who has on this occasion done 
his duty in a manner highly creditable to himself."" 

" 'Second Ueport Ordnance Est.,' 1828, printed 12th June, 1828, p. 26. 
" See page 2'JU. 




An epidemic fever of nearly equal severity to the one of 1804 
raged at Gibraltar in September and October. The greater 
part of the sappers at the Rock were seized with the complaint 
and nineteen died. Being quartered in the barracks near the 
unhealthy district and in the vicinity of the line of drains, the 
companies furnished the first victims to the disease ;'^ and to 
lessen the mortality which this circumstance was likely to in- 
duce, they were, for a time, encamped on a rocky flat below 
Windmill Hill. The deaths at the forlress during the preva- 
lence of the fever were 507 military and 1,700 civilians.'* 

Lieutenant II. R. Brandreth, R.E., early in 1829 proceeded 
to Ascension, and having made a survey of the island, returned 
to England and reported on its capabilities for defence and 
eligibility for an Admiralty stiition. Lance-corporal William 
Beal was attached to that officer and emj)loyed under him from 
March to September. His duty was cliiefly that of a clerk, but 
he also assisted in making the measurements of the survey, and 
in collecting geological specimens to illustrate the character of 
the strata. In the discharge of these services, his zeal and 
intelligence were found very useful, and on his return he was 
deservedly promoted to be second-corporal. 

In June the forage caps were somewhat altered. The yellow 
band was abolished, and hoops and stiffening were forbidden. 
The cap was now of plain blue web, with leather peak and chin 
strap. The sergeants' c«ips were of plain blue cloth, hoo])ed 
and stiffened, with three chevrons of gold lace in front over the 
peak. The staff-sergeants retained the gold bands. 

Nova Scotia, which ceased to be a station for the corps in 
18iy, was again opened for a company this year, which landed 
from the 'Sophia' transport on the 10th June, 1829. A com- 
pany of the corps has ever since been emjjloyed there in carrying 
on t le ordinary works and fortifications, and in the erection of 
t'le citadel. 

i' velve privates under coiporal James Forbes, were, in 
S(-i '• iber, for the first time, sent to Sandhurst to afford 


" ' United Service .loiirnal,' i. IS.Il, p. 2;i5. 
" Martin's ' Urilish Colonies,' v. p. ?!•. 




practical instruction in sapping, mining, &c., to the gentlemen 
cadets at the Royal Military College. The term extended over 
September and October, and the party returned to (Chatham 
with the highest character. Much praise was awarded to 
corporal Forbes for his exertions and attainments, and his 
promotion to the rank of sergeant followed in consequence. 
From that time a detachment has, during each term, been 
attached to the college for the same useful purpose, and has 
invariably performed its duties with credit and effect. 





The chaco — Brigade-Major Rice Jones — Island of Ascension — Notice of cor- 
poral Bcal— Detachment to the Tower of London — Chatham during the 
Reform agitation — Staff appointments — Sergeant M'Laren the first medallist 
in the corps — Terrific hurricane at Barbadoes; distinguished conduct of 
colour-sergeant Harris and corporal Muir— Subaqueous destruction of the 
' Arethusa' at Barbadoes— Return of a detachment to the Tower of London — 
Rideau canal ; services of the sappers in its construction ; casualties ; and 
disbandmeut of the companies— Costume — First detachment to the Mauritius 
— Notice of corporal Reed — Peudennis Castle. 

Thk chaco was altered this year to one of a reduced form, and 
decorated with yellow lines and tassels, which fell upon the 
shoulders and looped to the centre of the breast. The brasses 
comprised a radiated star with three guns, carriages, and 
8j)onge3, surmounted by a crown. The scales were, for the 
first time, worn under the chin, and a goose feather ten inches 
long, was held upright by an exploded shell. The ear-cover 
was removed, and a patent leather band was substituted. — See 
Plate XIV., 1832. The sergeants and stafF-sergeants had 
chacos of a superior description with ornaments of fine gilt, 
bearing guns, carriages, and sponges of silver. The lines and 
tassels were of gold cord, and were worn only at reviews or on 
special occasions Oil-skin covers were sometimes worn by the 
officers, and oil-skin cases for the feather by all ranks in rainy 
weather. Worsted mitts were also ado])ted at this time instead 
of leather gloves. The sergeants and the staff wore white 
Berlin gloves. 

Major Frank Stauway, R.E., was appointed lirigadc-niajur 




to the corps on the 8th June, vice Lieutenant-Colonel Rice 
Jones removed on promotion. The post had been held by 
Colonel Jones for seventeen years. Under his guidance, 
a successful check was given to those deep-rooted habits of 
indiscipline which had characterized the corps, and cramped 
its efficiency. This was not accomplished without encountering 
many obstacles ; but firm in his purpose, and decided in his 
bearing and orders, he soon reaped the reward of his per- 
severance and diligence ; and wheri the custom of the service 
required that he should relinquish his charge, he delivered 
the corps to his successor in a state that reflected upon him 
the highest honour. 

Second-corporal William Bcal returned to Ascension in 
August with Captain Brandreth, and continued with him till 
September, 1831. During this period he assisted in marking 
out the sites of the principal works proposed to be erected for 
the improvement and establishment of the colony as ti naval 
victujilling station, and performed his duty in an able and 
satisfactory manner.' 

Reform was, at this period, the turbulent cry of the country, 
and masses of the people in consequence of its delay, assumed a 
menacing attitude. Anticipating an outbreak in the metropolis. 

' Was educated for a Baptist minister ; but an introduction to Dr. Olinthus 
Gregory failing to realize his hopes, he enlisted in the corps in 1828. His 
intelligence caused him to be chosen for the two surveys of Ascension. He 
afterwards served at Hermuda, and at Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the former 
station he was wounded by the accidental firing of a mine whilst blasting rock, 
and submitted to the amputation of portions of his fingers with stoical com- 
posure. Wherever he went he took with him a small but valuable library, and 
was well read in the latest issues from the press. Byron, Carlyle, and some 
abstruse German writers, were his favourite authors. No man in his condition 
of life was, perhaps, as conversant with the roots and eccentricities of the 
English language as lieal, and his mental endowments rendered him capable of 
grasping any subject, however deep, and turning it to profit both in his duties 
and in his daily intercourse with men. Late in his service he attained profi- 
ciency as a draughtsman, and later still, an enterprising engineer in London 
subu'itted a plan for a system of sewers in the metroi)olis, which was accom- 
panied by a report drawn up by this sergeant. He left the corps in April, 
1849, with a pension of 2x. ; and the knowledge and experience he had 
acquired by application and travel, are now being employed, with advantage to 
his interests, in one of the settlements on the liidcau Canal in Canada. 




one sergeant, two coq)orals, and twenty-eight privates under the 
command of Lieutenant George Page, R.E., marched to the 
Tower on the 8th November. The two following days the 
detachment was under arms with the other troops to put down 
any attempt at insurrection, but both days passed off without 
any demonstration requiring the interference of the military- 
After constructing some temporary works in and about the 
Tower, the party returned to Woolwich 22nd January, 1831. 

At Chatham during the same period. Colonel Sir Archibald 
Christie, the commandant, did the corps the honour of confiding 
to it the charge of the magazines within the lines. Repeatedly 
the guards were approached by suspicious persons ; and on one 
occasion private John Ilerkes was fired at by an unseen hand, 
but the ball missed him and perforated the sentry-box. The 
vigilance of the men and the strictness with which they dis- 
charged their duty, gained them the higliest credit. 

Captain Edward Matson was appointed brigade-major to the 
corps on the 14th February, vice Major Stanway who resigned ; 
and Captain Joshua Jebb was commissioned as adjutant to the 
establishment at Chatham from the same date in the room of 
Captain Matson. 

Colour-sergeant James McLaren was the first soldier of the 
corps who received the gratuity and medal. The distinction 
was conferred upon him in April, and well be merited it, both 
on account of his excellent conduct and his good services at 
St. Sebastian, Algiers, New Orleans, and the Cape of Good 
Hope. He only survived the receipt of his honours a few days. 

Barbadoes was visited by a hurricane at midnight on the 
lltb August, and its results far exceeded in magnitude the 
fearful storms of 1G75 and 1780. The loss of life on this 
occasion was calculated at 2,500, and the wounded at 5,000 
persons; while the value of proj)erty destroyed, exclusive of 
losses by the goverinnent and the shi])ping, was estimated at 
more than a million and a lialf of money. But in this universal 
devastation the military suffered but little. The comi)any of 
sappers was quartered in the barracks at the parade-ground. 
The lower part, occupied by the artillery, lost only the jalousie 




windows ; while the upper part, where the sappers were located, 
was considerably cracked, the roof uncovered, and several of 
the rafters broken, by the falling of the parapet upon them. 
Still with all this danger no accident happened which affected 
life or limb.' At the hospital the consequences were different. 
Strongly built and appearing to defy the most powerful storm, 
that building was blown down, and private Charles Shambrook 
crushed to death in the fall.'' Daring the Inu'ricane it is re- 
corded, that colour-sergeant Joseph 1 ! is signalized himself 
at the hospital of the 3Gth regiment by liis praiseworthy exer- 
tions in rescuing sufferers from the ruins ; and his skilful and 
zealous conduct was applauded by the officers who assisted him.* 
Corporal Andrew Muir of the corps also, at great risk to his 
life, distinguished himself by his activity in every part where 
his assistance was required, and being a very powerful man, 
wiis eminently successful in relieving his suffering fellow- 
soldiers of various corps.* 

Soon after the hurricane, the ' Arethusa,' of Liverpool, a 
ship of 350 tons, was blown to pieces by gunpowder in the 
harbour of Barbadoes, by colour-sci'geant Harris and a party 
of the 19th company under the direction of Major, now 
Colonel Sir William Keid. The destruction of the ship was 
effected by a number of successive small charges of gunpowder 
applied to the ship's bottom as near the keel as possible, and 
fired at high water ;" and as it has not been discovered, in 
the history of engineering, that the entire demolition of a wreck 
was ever accomplished by these means, it is therefore memo- 
rable that the royal sappers and miners were the first who ever 
destroyed a sunken wreck by submarine mining.'' 

On the 7th October, the House of Lords threw out the 

• ' Account of the fatal Hurricane at Barbadoes in 1831,' p. 89. 

" Opposite the General Hospital, a monumental tomb, erected by his sur- 
viving comrades, marks the spot where the mangled remains of poor Shambrook 
were interred. Ibid., p. 95. 

* Ibid., p. 94. » Ibid., p. 97. 

" ' Prof. Papers, Koyal Engineers,' ii. p. 36. ' United Service Journal," iii. 
18.'i8, p. ,37. 
' ' United Service Journal,' ii. 1839, p IH.l, 184. 




Reform Bill, and as consequent riots had occurred in various 
parts of the country, it was expected that an attack would be 
made on the Tower of London. To assist in repelling any 
attempt upon that fortress, two sergeants and thirty-three rank 
and file under the command of Jjieutenant John Williams, ll.E., 
were sent there on the 8th November, but after being under 
arms for a week, they returned to ^V'of)lwich, without any 
necessity arising for the employment of their services. 

Late in December, second-corporal Edward Deane and 
private James Andrews, arcompanied (,'aptain C Grierson 
to ^Vestcrn Africa, where they were employed in surveying 
the coast and the town of Bathurst. On this duty they were 
found particularly useful, and rejoined at Woolwich in June, 

The^Rideau Canal, began in 1827, was finished in the winter 
of 1831, connecting the trade and commerce of the two pro- 
vinces of Canada, on which, by means of locks and dams, 
vessels are raised to a summit level of 283 feet in eighty-four 
miles, and again descend 165 feet in forty-three miles.** The 
object of the undertaking was, in the event of a war with the 
United States, ..o have a secure water communication open 
between the lakes and Lower ('anada." Two companies of the 
corps were employed on this service under the command of 
Iiieut.-Colonel By of the engineei*s, whose name was given to 
the town which rose up in the wild spot selected for the head- 
quarters. The earliest hut in Bytown, now a flourishing 
settlement, was built by the sappers. For the first summer 
they were encamped on a height near the Ottawa, but before 
the winter set in were removed into temporary barracks erected 
by themselves. Most of the work of the canal was executed by 
contract, but in some parts of the line where the engineering 
difficulties were great, sapper labour was chiefly resorted to — 
the non-commissioned officers acting as foremen of trades and 
overseers. Parties were detached during the progress of the 
canal to Merrick's Mills, Isthmus of Mud Lake, Upper Nar- 

" Speech of Major Selvryn, R.E. ' Graham's Town Journal, 1842. 
" ' Prof. Papers, Royal Engineers,' v. p. 1 57. 




rows, rivers Tay and Richmond, Jones' Falls, Claffey'a Mills, 
Ncwborough, and Isthmus of Rideau Lake. 

Among the chief services rendered by the companies it is 
rec jrded, that a party levelled and cleared the channel of the 
rivi3r between Black Rapids and the head of Long Island. 
O.T the ra-^ai they bu;H, a bridge connecting upper and lower 
Bytown, which still bears the designation of the "Sappers' 
bridge." In the construction of the first eight locks at the 
Ottawa, the companies participated to an imi)ortant extent, and 
Sir Henry Ilardinge, in his evidence before the Select Com- 
mittee in March, 1828, alluded to their employment at some of 
the most difficult parts of the work towards the Ottawa.'" No 
less difficult was the work executed by them at Hog's bank. 
The dam there had been commenced by the contractor, but he 
ultimately abandoned the undertaking. Sixty men of the corps 
were withdrawn from the Ottawa to recommence it, and, with 
some hundred labourers, were employed at the dam all the 
winter of 1828 and 1829. Before the breaking up of the 
frost, the masonry was nearly completed with a base of 25 feet ; 
but on the 6th April, 1829, the water found its way through 
the frozen earth, and making a breach in the dam, carried away 
everything opposed to it. This was the second failure. Still a 
third time it was attempted, and under the superintendence of 
Captain Victor of the royal engineers, a strong framework of 
timber was formed in front of the breach, supported and 
strengthened by enormous masses of clay, stone, and gravel, 
with a base of 250 feet, which successfully overcame the diffi- 
culty ; and the dam, in 1837, was the most substantial work 
on the whole line of canal." 

On the completion of the work, which cost upwards of a 
million of money, the two companies were disbanded in De- 
cember. Their united strength on leaving England was 160, 
and the casualties during their period of service at the canal 
were as follows : — 

'» 'Select Report Ordnance Est.,' printed 12th June, 1828, p. 82. 
" ' Prof. Papers, Hoyal Engineers,' i. p. 86. 




rf ftj^prcliMiiilod aail 



•stiblishmt'iu of Hio 

. th-i; \eftr ijy 

■iMi; uhjjti ill ail re«{it'cts th- 

ilM-d the SfJirU't- hut 

•ihorr. ■ 

uniform i . . . 

feflr wyf Tm r«v i 

Afi-l . ■ J I 


mid ivf'ii a '.« t»'r, 

;;' •.,» ilitfacluctjil ; ■■ ■■ • t tiiv 

iv.i; il -f;,!' tll>^ iuv Fi,,- 

\ ii,-.iviii<'i) it till 

. >< -'*iL<! HI) it>.- . 
■ . ■ ' • '!;t4 '''■■''' ' ■ ' ■ 





Deserted 35 Of whom two were apprehended and 




Drowned . . • , . 

Discliargi-d . . . . 

Invalids, and renin.""* of 

companies returnei.. to 

England , . . . 

Total . . 






Hy blasting rock, either in the quarries 

or the canal. 
Thirty- seven at the Isthmi s of Rideaii 

Lake, and thirty-four at Hytown." 

Ky tlie redii'ition of these companies the establishment of v'le 
coi-])ji fell from 1,34'.) to 1,1 S7 of all rankf=. 

A material alteration was made in the clothing this year l)y 
clianging the coloiu- of the coatee from scarlet to the infantry 
red, and the style and decoration of the dress were also modi- 
fied, to correspond with the form of lacing adopted generally in 
the line.— See Plate XIV. 

The coatee of the bugle-major remained in all respects the 
same as before. Tlie buglers also retained the scarlet, Imt 
the style of wearing the lace accorded with that of the privates. 
For the working dre-5S, a roiuid jacket with bell buttons bear- 
ing the corps device, wiis established, instead of the jacket with 
short skirts. Of both uniform and working trousers, the colour 
was changed from light blue to dark Oxford mi.xture ; but the 
imiform trousers as formerly, were much finer than the work- 
ing ones. The red stripe djwn the outer seam waa two inches 
broad on the former, and half an inch wide on the latter. 
I^aced boots were also introduced this year in place of the 
short Wellingtons, issued for the first time in 1825. The 
leather stock hitherto sui)j)lied by the public, was now made an 
article of necessaries and provided at the cost of thesoldier. 

A detachment of seven masons and bricklayers under corporal 
Jolm Ilecd, embarked for the Mauritius on the 25th May and 
arrived there in the 'Arab,' transport, on the 13th November. 
This was the first jiarty of the corps that had ever landed at the 
Isle of I ranee. On board ship, great irregularity jwevailed 

'■' Most of tliise men received KM) acres of laud each as a reward for tlieir 
SLMvices and good conduct, and several were provided with appointments on 
the canal. 




among the troops ; but corporal Reed's party behaved in so 
exemplary a manner, that the report of their creditiible conduct 
was nuide the subject of a general order to the corps.''' The 
detachmcMit was sent to the island at the recommendation of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Fyers of tli royal engineers, for the purpose 
of leading and instructing the native artificers, and were quar- 
tered in some old slave huts at the Caudon. The first work 
undertaken by the sappers was the tower at Black River. 
^^'bile this was in progress, a reinforcement of one colour- 
sergeaut, and twenty-two rank and file, under the command 
of Captain C. Grierson, R.E., landed from the ' Royal George,' 
freightship on the 22nd January, 1833, and afterwards assisted 
in the works at Black River, and also in the erection of tw , 
martello towers at Grand River. When these were complete^ 
the services of the entire detachment were chiefly confined to 
the building of the citadel on the Petite Montagne. 

In May six rank and file were detached from Plymouth to 
Pendennis Castle. In June of the next year the party was 
increased to two sergeants and eighteen rank and file, who were 
employed there until August in repairing the barracks and 
strengthening the ramparts. 

" Corporal Reed, when returning home an invalid from the Mauritius, was 
wrecked on the 17th .luly, 183ti, in the tiarque * Doncaster,' on the reef 
L'Agulhas, "0 miles S.E. of the Cape of Good Hope, and perished with his 
wife and family of four children. 





Inspection at Chatham by Lord Ilill — Ponioon experiments — Withdrawal of 
companies from the ports — Heducticm of tlie corps, and reorganization of the 
companies — Recall of companies from abroad -I'nrflcet — Trigonometrical 
survey of west coast of England — Draft to the Cape — Review at Cliathara 
by Lord Hill — Motto to the corps — Reinforcement to the Mauritius — Inspec- 
tion at Woolwich by Sir Fredericli Mulcaster — Mortality from eliolera; 
serviees of corporals Hopkins and Ritehley — Entertainment to the detach- 
ment at tlie Mauritius by Sir William Nicolay — Triangulation of tlie west 
coast of Scotland — Kaffir war — Appointments of ten foiemen of works — 
Death of (Quartermaster Galloway — Succeeded by sergeant-major Hilton — 
Sergeant Eorbes — Notice of his father — Lieutenant Dashwood — Euphrates 
expedition — Labours of the party — Sergeant Sira- Generosity of Colonel 
(Micsuey, R. A. —Additional smiths to the expedition — Loss of the 'Tigris' 
steamer — Descent of tlie Euphrates -Sappers with the expedition employed 
as engineers — Corporal Greenliill — Approbation of the services of the party 
— Triangulation of west coast of Scotland — Addiscombe — Expedition to 
Spain— Character of the detachment that accompanied it — Passages ; action 
in front of San Sebastian — Reinforcement to Spain — Final trial of Pontoons — 
Mission to Constantinople. 

TllK corps at Chatliarn, consisting of two companies and a 
(letacluncnt, were inspected by Lord Hill, the ( !ouimander-in- 
('liief, on the 16th August, 1833, and his Lordship was jilcased 
to express his ajtprohation of their efficiency and a])pearance. 

( )n tiie 20th of the same month, some experimental practice 
was carried on with Major Blansliard's cylindrical juintoons on 
the canal in the royal arsenal at Woolwich, in the presence of 
Lieutenant-( General Sir .lames Kempt, the Master-General. In 
these trials two non-commissioned officers i.nd twenty-four 
privates from Ciiatham assisted, and their activity and energy 
elicited the thanks of the inventor and the commendation of the 

Ctii the recommendation of a committee appointed l»y the 
Master-General, the company at I My month with the detachment 

vol. I. . P 




at Pondcnniii!, was romovod to Woolwicli on tlic 18tli Auirust, 
1S33, and tlio company at Port.<niontli wiis al^o transforrod to 
licad-quartors on the 2'Jtli of the .sitnu' month. For nearly fifty 
yoai's a com|)finy had l)eon (luartcrcd at each of tliosc ])orts, and 
their witlidvawal was canned by .^ona' ajjijroaciiiujj alterations in 
the constrnction and distribution of the cor])?. 

Tlie ex])ediency of roducin<r it, and remodellinir the organiza- 
tion of the comi)anies, iiad been imder consideration for months ; 
and it was believed tl:at oven after providinjjf an adcfjuato esta- 
blishment of sappers and miners projMtrtionatc to the strength 
of the infantry, tiic numbers of the corps might be so diminished 
as to lessen its expense '),()()()/. annually. ^Major-General Pil- 
kingtou, the Ins])ector-General of Fortifications, laid down 
the rule that 100 sappers was a fair nund)er to be attached to 
4,000 infantry, subject, however, to augmentiitioii in ])articular 
cases, according to the nature of the country in which operations 
might be carried on. On these data, Sir James Kem])t ordered, 
on the 30th August, 1833, the ctmipanies of the corps to be 
compressed from seventeen into twelve, and the establishment 
to he reduced fn.m 1.187 to 1,070 of all ranks. 

Under the same order, the eight gentsral service and three 
s(n-v(>y companies were ctmiposed of the following ranks and 
numbers : — 

TheCoi-fiiCompaiiy, iLiiil'i 
by the loniuii (ioveni-l 
nKiit.wusunchuii(tcil in / 1 
its estalilislimcnt, am! I 
C0\18l»ll'd lit'. . . . ' 

rolour- flt-r- Cur- filltl (m'IhthI 

MTi^ntnl nr.inw. p<iriU. cnr|j. Iliii;!. Prtv, Toljtl, Totiii 

1 2 ,1 .'1 2 SO 91 for 11 Ci)mps.= l,(iui 

-.1 i\-2 


The Staff, including Urigade-major, Adjutant, (^uartermastc r, 2 ScrmMint-l 
majors, 1 tiuartiruiaster-si'rgoant,' and I Hn^ilc-niajor, ainouulril lo , | ' 

Making of all ranks a total of 1,070 

' One nuartivmastprsi-riKi'ant was now ri'duoed, and Francis Allen, who held 
the rank f\>v tweiity-IWo years, was discharged in Oetoher, IS.'t'l, and pensioned 
at 2s. 8ji/. a-day, having ooniplcled a service of more than forty years. One 
of his sons, l\)rmerly in the corps, is foreman of works at Alderney, and another, 
Umll recently, was clerk of works in the royal engineer department, I-ondon 

1834. i HOYAL SAPl'ERS AND MINKliS. 291 

The distribution of tlie companies was fixed as follows : — 

Woolwich ....;) 

Ohatlmiii 1 

Survey 3 

Gibraltar 1 

Corfu 1 

Hermiula 1 

Halifax 1 

('ape of Godil Hope . . ^ 
Mauritius . . . . ^ 

Total . 12 

The companies at Barbadoes and Quebec, and tlie second 
companies at Gil)raltar and Bernmda, were recalled and incor- 
porated with the newly-constructed coiupairu's, or reduced as 
the circumstances of the service reciuired. The reduction was 
a ]irogrcssive measure, and not finally (illected till the (3th 
November, 1834. 

A party of six rank and file was sent in January to Purfleet ; 
and a like number continued for more than twenty years to be 
employed there in carrying on the current rejjairs to the depart- 
mental property with advantage to the public service. 

In May, sergeant George Darbyshire and five rank and file 
were detached under Ca])tain Henderson, of the engineeiv, on 
the trigonometrical survey of tlu; west coast of England. Tlie 
operations embraced the triangulation of the Lancashire and 
( 'uinberlaiid cuasts with the Isle of ^lan, and ])art of the coast of 
HcoIImiiiI. 'I'lie sergeant and one of the ])riv;ites were employed 
n^ ol)S((rvers ; the remainder assisted in the erection of objects 
for observation, stages, I'ie., and attended to the duties of the 
camp. The Jiarty quitted the mountains in October and rejoined 
their several companies. 

Ill the same month, at the Cape of Good Hope, the detach- 
ment was augmented to half a company of forty-eiglit of all 
ranks. Tlu; necessity for this addition had l)een repeatedly 
represented by the I'ominanding royal engineer at the .-taticm. 
Si'arcely a bricklayer or mason could be found in the colony who 
had served an apprenticeship : and those who professed these 
trades were not only unskilful and indolent, but generally 
drunken and dis.sipated. It therefore became an object of 




much importance to iIl(■^■,•l^^c tlio wi])])crs at the ("ape to a 
number sutficieiit to meet tlie ( xijreucies of the service. 

On the 3rcl June a company and detachment of the corps 
were reviewed at Chatham with tlie troo])s in jrarrison l)y Lord 
Hill, who cxpre.-sed his a])])rol)ati()n of the soldier-like appear- 
ance and elfcctive state of the s ippers. 

His IMajesty, in July, 1>S.')2, ordered tlie motto " Ubiquo quo 
fas et ^doria ducunt "" to he home on tlie appointments of the 
corps, in addition to the Royal Arms and Supporters ; and this 
year tlie cap-plates and hreast-jtlates were made to accord with 
the King^'s command. The cap-lines or cords and tassels 
IssucmI in 1830 were aholishcd this year, and the statf-ser- 
jjreants were permitted to wear, ii, stead of the forage-cap, a silk 
oilskin chaco of the same size ant. shape as the regimental chaco. 

In July a reinforcement of fifteen rank and tile landed at the 
Mauritius from the ' ValleyfieLl' freightshi[), increasing the 
detachment to a half company ( f forty-tive strong. 

On the U)th August the three companies and detachment 
at Woolwich were inspected by IMajor-Gtmeral Sir I'Vederic 
Mulcaster, the Inspector-General of Fortifications, and the per- 
fect siitisfaction he felt at what he witnessed was made the 
subject of a general order to the corps. 

For four years the cholera had been ])revalent in many parts 
of Great Britain and the colonies, but owing to the admirable 
precautions adopted, the disease was not only less formidable, 
but much less fatal among the military than the civil popula- 
tion. In the royal .sappers and miners the numbers seized with 
the malady were comparatively insignificant ; and during this 
period, though tlie disease had visited most of the stations 
where companies of the corps were (juartered, the fatal cases 
only amounted to sixteen men, five women, and four children. 
Those cases occurred at the following stations : — 

Serg. I'riv. Worn. Child. 

Quebec, in July and September, 1832 .. .. 

Portsmouth, August, Is.l.l I I 2 

Gibraltar, July, 18;i4 1 3 3 3 

Ilalil'ax, N.S., in /Vugust and September, 1834 • .. 7 •• ., 

At Portsmouth ten men were admitted into hospital with the 
disease. The company was consctpiently removed to Soutlisea 




Castle and the cholera disappeared. At Cjihraltar tliirty-oiie 
men were admitted, anil tlie deaths were few in ])ni]t(irtl()n to 
the loss of some reijinients in parrison, the 50tii rciiiiiient 
liavinjr lost nearly fifty men. ( )f the military at the fortress 
al)out 140 died of eliolera, hut the civilians counted 470 fatal 
cases. Durinj,' the rajrinff of the disease, corporal John Hopkins 
and lance-cor|)oral NViliiam IJitchley were conspicuous for 
their zeal and attention to the sick. Their duties were at- 
tended with considerable personal risk ; and to the valuable 
assistance they rendered to the men in the early stajzes of the 
attack, both by their cheerful exertions and judgment, is attri- 
buted the rapid recovery of many of those who were sent to the 
hospital ( Corporal llojjkins was promoted to tlie rank of 
scrjreaut in eouse(pieuce. At Halifax, Dr. M'Douald of the; 
ordnance medical department, f^ained much credit for his inde- 
fatigable attention to his numerous j)atiei)ts, twenty-six of whom 
recovered under his skilful treatment ; and his grejit success in 
so many cases was lauded botli by the medical chief of his own 
department, and the ^laster-CIeneral. 

In December the foundation stone of the citadel of La. Petite 
IMoutagnc, ^Mauritius, was laid by ^lajor-General Sir William 
Nicolay, the governor of the colony, with all the parade and 
cerenu)ny usual on such occasions. Tiie company was present, 
and private William Reynolds, the most skilful mason in the 
detachment, had the honour of assisting his Kxcellency in the 
deposition of the stone. In the evening of the same day to 
commemorate the event, the detachment with their wives and 
families jjartook of a sumptuous supj)er generously furnished by 
his Excellency. 

From June to October, sergeant George Darbyshire and five 
men were employed under Captain Henderson, R.E., in the 
triangulation of tiie west coast of Scotland, and were encam])ed 
during the operations on the mountains. 

At the Cajjc of Good Hope the incursions of the Kaffirs 
brought on a desultory war this year, and the detachment of 
the corps in the colony was scattered in small parties over the 
frontier. Though nnidi employed with the advanced forces in 
superintending the construction of redoubts and other indis- 




pciisuble defciisivo work;*, tlicy wore mniT called upon to take 
any particular part in attackiuy the enemy. Tlu; niarcliiny to 
which they were subjected, throufrh a coinitry of husli and 
mountain, was severe, and ex])osed under canvas or in liivouae 
to every variation of the climate, they shared all the trials and 
sufferinfrs incident to the troops. 

Sir llussey Vivian, the Blaster-General, entertained so 
favourable an opinion of the corps, that he felt it right, on the 
Gth October, to order increased encouragement to be given to 
non-commissioned officers of jn-oper attainments and merits, by 
apjjointiug them occasionally t(» l)c forenuni of works in the 
royal engineer department. 'J'lie first appointed under this order 
was sergeant Henry French,- and at distant intervals tlie follow- 
ing non-commissioned officers were promoted to that rank — 
viz., sergeants Nicolas Markey,'' William Spry,^ John Wood,'' 

' Had sfwud uiiwarils of twenty-two years in llic corps ; and was a shrewd 
man and a skilfnl carpenter and overseer, lie was a])p(iinted iuOct(jl)er, IS.'iti, 
to Guernsey, where he died in February, isri4. Jlis eldest son, a very pro- 
mising young man, is now foreman of works in the department at the Tower. 

" .Toined the corps a lad, and by jK'rseveranee made himself compelcnt for 
higher duty. To smartness in person he united much nctirity of body, and in 
September, 1843, was advanced to the civil branch, first to Corfu and then to 
Gibraltar; where, in tlie excess of his zial on the works, he fell from his horse 
by a stroke of the sun, and sustained an injury in the liead. He is now at 
Dublin, a lunatic, passing away his life on a retirement of :W, a-ycar. He 
served seventeen years in the sappers. 

♦ Was an excellent mason and very efficient as a foreman. He had been on 
a mission to Constantinople, and received from Sultan Mahmoud H. a gold 
medal for his services. After a service of twenty-one years in the corps, he 
was, in June, 1844, appointed to Gibraltar, where he fell into habits of exces- 
sive intemperance and committed suicide in 1852. 

' As master mason at Vido he constructed the works witli remarkable ability. 
He also superintended the erection of the half-moon battery in the citadel and 
the defensive buildings at Fort Neuf. Colonel Hassard said, on his lea\injr, 
that he hardly expected a man of ecpial talent to fill liis place: and it may be 
observed that he could speak with lUiency the different languages of the civil 
workmen at Corfu, liy Colonel Hassard he was recommended to visit Ijome 
and other places for artistic improvement, l)ut the usages of the service did not 
permit the concession of this favour. In 18.i7 he finished the erection of the 
Longona cistern at Paxo, which relieved the inhabitants from the necessity of 
taking long journeys to procure supplies. The work was very creditable to 
him, aiul gained for him the eulogy and good will of the whole islaiul. To 
commemorate its completion a procession of the functionaries and I'litc of Paxo 
took place, and Wood, the great obje-;t of attraction, was warmly greeted by 
the grateful popidace. He became forcmad of works in November, 1844. first at 


1835. 1 



Willliiin .Ta<fii," lluj,'li Miinro,'' .Tolni lloiikiiis," second-corporal 
Daniel Uoik," sorf^eaiit William Sargent,'" and (iiiartor-niaster 
sergeant Noali Deary." 





« — 

('('|ilial()ni;i, ami next al ('(iifii. His siTvieo in tlio corps was over twculy- 
tlnvL' years. 

" He (.'allied his ]ir()i)i()ti(in very rnpiilly, llir lie was in nil respects ii very 
clever artilieer and loreinan. In the worlds iit'the depurtment at Woolwleh he 
was fimnd a frreat aei|nisiti(in, and alter seiviii^' fur a few years at Jiernuida, 
wliere his usefulness was (rreatly appreciated, he was discharged in May, 184.'i, 
and appniiited In Canada. There he passed seven years, and is now serving 
at (iiliraltar. 

' .V good mason, and liore an iinlilameable I'haracter. .After twenty years' 
service, chiefly at Halifax and Corfu, he was appointed to Malta in .April, IS 47, 
where he is still serving with elfieiency and credit. 

" When he joined the corps a lad, in 182(1, he could scarcely write, but by 
diligent application he soon exhibited talents which in after ycais caused liiin 
to be selected for important duties. Promotion he received rapidly, and for 
nis intelligence and ingenuity at Sandhurst in la.T.l he was honourably noticed 
iu the ' I'nited Service Journal,' ii. IK.iU, p. 4-Jli. For many years he served 
at (iibrallar and the Oape of (iood Hope, liecame a fair draftsman and archi- 
tect, and in .July, 184S, after a service of twenty-two years, was appointed 
foreman of works, first at the Cape, and then at Woolwich. He is now clerk 
of works at Shocbiiryness. 

" Was a superior mason, and trained before enlistment as an overseer. Most 
of his military service — nineteen years —was spent on the surveys of Great 
Hritain and Ireland, in which he had made himself so proficient a surveyor 
and mathematician, that he was one of three non-commissioned officers sent 
to the royal observatory at (jreenwich to receive instructions in the mode of 
making astronomical observations. This was with the view to his employment 
on the boundary survey in America, in which he afterwards served for a 
season with approbation. Colonel Kstcourt wrote of him, — " He is intelligent, 
well educated, and efficient for almost any duty." These ac(|uirement8, 
coupled with his good conduct, gained for him the vacant foremancy at Zante, 
in September, 184S; but, it must be added, he commenced the duty in dis- 
honour by unwarrantably drawing a bill on the .Assistant Adjutant-General of 
the royal engineers, and then having run a career of dissipation that nothing 
could check, was justly dismissed in disgrace in .Inly, 1S40. 

'" .loined the co"p.^ Iron the military asylum at Chelsea. Until the Hussian 
war broke out he lead no '■• "U noticed for any particular aptitude or efficiency. 
Whep at Constiint .lop'e, itirown by circumstances into boundless difficulties 
conse.picnt on the ("iii;htf'nl pressure for hospital accommodation, his services 
were invaluable. 'I bay-: no hesitation," wrote Captain ICC. A.Gordon, 
20th August, IS.").''), " in 'aj aig, that I believe the success of the works that were 
executed was owing, in a great nieasurc, to his excessive and untiring zeal 
and activity." This recommendation was the occasion of his appointment at 
Scutari, from whence, after the return of peace, he was removed to the engi- 
neer department at Devonport. 

" Entered the corps a boy from Clielsea school. With a fair share of com- 
mon sense, he made the best of his chances as a military foreman at the Cape 









I I.I 


b^y^ |2.5 

|5o ^^~ B^M 

1^ P^ 12.2 



1.4 mil 1.6 


^ ^^ ^ 






















Quartermaster James Galloway died on the 9th November 
at Welksley House, Shooters' Hill, after an active service of 
forty-five years, which he performed with a faithfulness amount- 
ing to devotion. Few officers in the army in passing from the 
ranks to a commission, gained higher respect than he did, and 
in his death few were more regretted or more honoured. 

Sergeant-major James Hilton succeeded to the vacancy — 
a distinction he merited by his long services, uniform zeal, 
and soldier-like qualities. He was presented on the occiision 
by the officers of royal engineers at Woolwich with a sword, 
and a grant was made to him of 201. to assist him in his 

Sergeant James Forbes was promoted to be sergeant-major 
by Sir Hussey Vivian as a reward for his services. For six 
years he had been employed, during every spring and autumn, 
at the royal military college at Sandhurst, in the instruction 
of the gentlemen cadets, and returned to his corps on every 
occasion with fresh claims to approbation. Every season at the 
college was marked by his effecting some improvement in the 
course and in rendering some new and essential service to the 
institution. Among many minor subjects necessary to complete 
the experimental course, he introduced the use of various me- 
chanical ex])edients in connexion with pur[)oses of military 
science, and the construction of military bridges of diffijrent 
kinds, from the rudest adaptations of rough timber and wicker 
work to the finished formation of a pontoon bridge.'* Observing 
his indefatigable exertions in carrying out his professional 
duties at the institution, Sir George Scovell, the Lieutenant- 
Governor, was induced to say, that " sergeant Forbes had 
laid the college under great obligations to himself and the 
admirable corps to which he belonged ;" and in acknowledg- 
ment of that obligation. Sir Edward Paget, the Governor, 
presented him with a valuable case of drawing instruments. 

of Good Hope, where he had served for many yeans. The rccuilection of his 
usefulness at Natal, and in other districts of the frontier, led to his being ap- 
pointed civil foreman of works in that colony. In 1842, Deary fought in the 
actions against the insurgent Boers at Natal. 

" ' United Service Journal,' iii. 1834, p. 561, and ii. 1835, p. 27", 278. 




Subsequently he had the high honour of being admitted to an 
audience with liis Majesty, William IV. ;" in which interview 
the King graciously commended his conduct, ability, and zeal. 
Soon afterwards the Master-General, who frequently wrote in 
eulogistic terms of his services, j)romoted him from the rank of 
sergeant to be sergeant-major.'* 

In December, Lieutenant Robert Dashwood, R.E., was ajj- 
pointed acting-adjutant at head quarters, to assist the brigade- 
major in the office and parade duties. This was the first appoint- 
ment of tht kinc. in the corps at Woolwich. Smart, strict in 
discipline, and exact in the performance of du^y, he promised 
to advance the sappers to the high development attiiined in 
well-disciplined regiments, but his ciircer of usefulness was 
suddenly cut short by disease of the heart, of which he died on 
the 21st September, 1839.'^ 

In the summer of 1834 an expedition under the command of 
'^olonel Chesney was projected, to ascertain the practicability 
of the Euphrates for opening a route by steam navigation to 
India. A detachment of the royal artillery and five men of the 
corps were appointed to it. One, sergeant Thomas Sim, was a 
surveyor, and the rest were smiths, and their qualifications in 
steam machinery, surveying, and drawing, had ])articular 
reference to the wants of the enterprise, ^^'llen selected their 
names were submitted to the King.'" For their military dress 
was substituted a plain blue suit, consisting of a slouched cap, 
frock coat with gilt buttons, and loose trousers, as more suitable 

'» Forbes's Pamphlet, ' National Defjnccs,' 1852. 

" The father of the sergeant-niujor, who also held that rank in the corps, 
died of fever at Walcheren in 1801), and, as soon as his son was old enough, he 
was enlisted into the sappers. Ills age on joining was only eight years ! For 
a few years he was statloiied at Dover, but the chi" of his career was passed 
at Chatham, where, under Sir Charles Pasley, he re eived that instruction in 
field fortification and drawing which made his services at Sandhurst so import- 
ant and successful. Here it should also be noticed thaf he kept his detach- 
ments in the best order ; and by their steadiness and willing exertions, they 
earned for themselves a character which has greatly raised the corps in public 

" The names of the succeeding acting-adjutants at Woolwich will be found 
in the Appendix III. 

" Chesney's ' Expedition to the liluphrateg,' Pref. x. 



to the climate of the Eiist. The beard and moustache after the 
oriental fashion were also worn. 

In September the ]iarty was sent to the factory of Messrs. 
Laird and (Jo., at Birkenhead ; and after receiving instructions 
in riveting and the management of steam engines, sailed on 
the 10th February, 1835, for Syria. Three of the iiarty only 
landed ; the other two having, by some mismanagement, re- 
turned to England from Malta. From the mouth of the 
Orontes to Bir, a distance of 145 miles, the three sjippei-s, as 
well as the other soldiers and seamen, were employed in trans- 
porting the materials for the construction and armament of 
two steamers, across a country of varied and difficult features, 
intersected by a lake and two rapid rivers. Boilers of great 
weight were forced up hills, inch by inch, by means of screw- 
jacks ; and through the unflagging exertions of officers and men, 
and their patient endurance of sutlering and fatigue, was ac- 
complished " one of till' most gigantic operations of modern 

While these arduous labours were in operation, two of the 
three sappers died — sergeant Sim and lance-corporal Samuel 
Gidens. For the most part, the sergeant had been employed 
with Lieutenant 3[urphy, ll.E., or alone, in surveying the 
country from I^atakia to the Gulf of Scanderoon ; and in 
which, from his previous knowledge and experience, he was 
found of great use ; but while prosecuting this duty, he fre- 
quently slept on the sfmds or in open boats, and thus contracted 
a disease no skill could eradicate. When surveying on Beilan 
mountain he suffered much from the keen and penetrating 
wind to which he was exposed, and was removed to Antioch 
for the benefit of his health. A slight improvement urged him 
to the field again ; but at Suedia, being thrown from a horse 
and much injured, he was again sent in a litter to Antioch, 
where he breathed his hist on the 19th Sejrtember, 1835. 

The corporal died at Fort William on the 3rd August. Up 
to the date of iiis illness he worked most diligently ; and to 
mark the sense entertained of his services, a gratuity of 100?. 
''" Chusncy's ' Observations on Fire-arms,' p. 197. 




was granted by the Treasury to his bereaved family on the 
recommendation of Colonel (Jhesney, to wl.ose honour it should 
be recorded that out of his own purse, he liberally .sujjported 
the widow and her children, until the award was made by the 

Feeling the want of the two smiths who had been sent home 
from Malta, Colonel Chcsney applied to have them re-attaciied 
to the expedition. His wish was at once acceded to, and witii 
them sailed two other privates, on the 3rd January, 1836, for 
Syria. Arriving at Malta, they were pjisscd on with all dis- 
patch in the 'Columbia' sloop of war, and reached Antioch late 
in February, in time to take part in the final pre])arations for 
floating the steamers. This reinforcement of " promising men, 
brought the party," so the Colonel writes, " to efficiency once 
more," and on the IGtli March the descent of tlio river was 
commenced. There were now five sap])ers with the expedition — 
one surveyor, and four blacksmitlis and millwrights, including 
corporal ^Villiam Black, all valuable as artificer and engi- 
neers. Three were allotted to the ' Euphrates ' steamer, and 
two to the ' Tigris.' Civil engineers were also attached to each 
vessel, to whom the sa])per smiths acted as subordinates, and 
were styled assistant engineers. 

On the 21st May a calamity occirred which deprived the 
expedition of nearly one half of its force. The steamers were 
descending the river with success, when they were overtaken by 
a hurricane of indescribable violence which jjlaced both vessels 
in imminent peril. The storm raged only eight minutes, but 
during those fearful moments the 'Tigris,' caugh* up in its 
furious vortex, was engulfed with twenty of its officers and men. 
Corporal Benjamin Fisher and private Archibjdd McDonald 
of the sapj)ers were on board : the former was dashed on siiore 
and saved, the latter perished ; but his comrades had the satis- 
faction of recovering and interring his remains on the banks of 
the stream, near Anna. 

The descent of the " Great River " was accomplished by 
reaching its junction with the ' Tigris' at Kurnah, on the 18th 
June, 1836, and seventy-two guns having been fired the next 




day in honour of His Majesty William IV., the steamer crossed 
the Persian Gulf to Bushirc, to mec't expected supplies from 
Bombay. After three months' delay at the former port refitting 
the vessel and com})letiug the engines with the assistance of the 
sappers, and a fresh crew having been obtained from the Indian 
navy, the steamer re-crossed the Persian Gulf, and the ascent of 
the river commenced. 

The chief engineer having died the first day of the ascent, 
the engines were entrusted tt) the sole management of cor- 
|)oral Fisher, who continued to perform this duty most sitis- 
factorily up to the termination of the service. Corporal Black 
was the senior non-commissioned officer of the party, but his 
health had previously become so much impaired that he was 
sent from Bussora to Bombay for its recovery. Of this non- 
commissioned officer Colonel Chesney wrote, that " both as a 
soldier and a man, in every way, he does credit to his corps." 

With the highest testimonials the party rejoined the corps at 
W^oolwich in May, 1837."* As engineers they had been found 
of the greatest service to the expedition ; and for the skilfulness 
and efficiency with whiJi the engines were worked, the Govern- 
ment divided the engineers' pay among them for the period 
they were so employed in the following projwrtions : — corporal 
Black 13^. ; lance-corporal B. Fisher l\)l. ; lance-coq)oral T. 
Edrington 21?. 

Lance-corporal William Greenhill was attached to Lieu- 
tenant Murphy, R.E., and his duties were those which arose 
out of surveying and astronomy. Li the whole of the survey 
of the two rivers and the countries adjacent to their banks, he 
took an important part, and after the death of that officer was 
employed on the line of levels between the two rivers, with 
reference to a canal of intercommunication for commercial j)ur- 
poses. Caj)tain Estcourt, 43rd regiment, the second in com- 
mand, in writing of this non-commissioned officer, says : " A 

" On the completion of the service, the expedition was favoured with a few 
days' location at Damascus, where the party removed their beards and mous- 
taches, and for the first time since the commencement of the enterprise, had 
the advantage of attending church for religious worship. 




inoro willing, honest, active man does not exist, and he is sober 
and trustworthy in the highest degree." " All," writes the same 
officer, " are valuable men, and capable of rendering important 
services wherever they may he employed." 

The approbation of the commissioners for the affairs of India 
was accompanied with the following gratuities : — to corporal 
Black 39^., and to each of the other three non-commissioned 
officers 19^. 10». ; and further, Sir Ilussey Vivian, the Master- 
General ordered the promotion of corporal Black to the rank 
of sergeant, second-corporal Fisher to corporal ; " and lance- 
corporal ^^'illiam Greenhill to be second-corporal.^" 

In May the operations for the triangulation of the west coast 
of Scotland were resumed, for the third time, under Captain 
Henderson, R.E., by six non-commissioned officers and men of 
the corps, who were continued on the service till the early winter. 
They then returned to Woolwich with a good character for 
activity and exertion. 

At the request of the court of Directors of the East India 
Company, seven rank and file were employed at the seminary 
at Addiscombc, in throwing up field-works for the instruction 
of the gentlemen cadets, during the months of August, Sep- 

" Pensioned in May, 1843, and appointed assistant lighthonse keeper at 
Earopa Point, Gibraltar, under the Trinity Hoard of London. 

*" Greenhill was an intelligent man, pleasantly eccentric, and fond of anti- 
quities. While with the expedition he made a collection of silver coins of 
remote times, which, with laudable feelings of attachment to his native place, 
he presented to the Perth Museum. Hie hnir was as white as silver, but his 
beard, full and flowing, was as black os ebony. To the Arabs he was quite a 
phenomenon, but tlie singularity which made him so, did not save him, on one 
occasion, from being rudely seized by a horde of banditti, and plundered, with 
almost fabulous dexterity, of the gilt buttons on his frock coat. They had 
nearly finished their work, when Greenhill tore himself from (heir grasp, but 
finding that a button still remained on the cuff, he audaciously pulled off the 
frock and threw it at them. Suspecting that their work was incomplete the 
Arabs pounced on the coat, and tearing off the remaining button scampered 
away to the hills again. When, sonic years later, the Niger expedition was 
forming, Greenhill volunteered to accompany it. He had a notion that the 
service would be one of suffering and vicissitude, and the better to inure him- 
self to its contemplated hardships he submitted his body to rigorous experi- 
ments of exposure and self-denial, which, inducing erysipelas, caused his 
premature decease in October, 1840. 




tember, and October. The corporal in charge received 28. 
a-(lay working pay, and the privates Is. a-day, each. For the 
two succeeding terms, a similar party was provided for the 
seminary, and on each occasion received much credit for its 
services. After the third term it was found desirable to dis- 
continue the detachment, and the Addiscombo authorities drew 
the means of instruction from their own resources. 

By an order from Lord Palmerston, Lieutenant Edward 
Vicivrs, RE., and one sergeant and twelve rank and file, em- 
barked at Woolwich on the lOth July, in the ' Pluto,' steamer, 
and landed at San Sebastian on the 19th, taking with them a 
limited supply of field equipment and engineer stores. The 
party was attached to the royal marines, with the British naval 
forces under the command of Lord John Hay, and was intended 
to take part in any operations deemed necessary to defend the 
Queen of Spain against the adherents of Don Carlos. All the 
men were volunteers, fully capable of constructing field-works 
and military bridges, and qualified, also to direct and take 
charge of working parties. 

The major part of the detachment were men of notoriously 
bad character, appointed to the service to afford them a chance 
of reclaiming themselves ; but their arrival in Spain was soon 
marked by those habits of turbulence and dissipation which 
rendered them a burden at home. ^Vithout zeal, spirit, or 
subordination, they were found almost useless on the works, 
and to such a pitch was their misconduct carried, that Lieu- 
tenant Vicars contemplated dispensing with their services as 
sappers and miners. By the removal, however, of a few of 
the grossest offenders, the punishment of others by the navy, 
and the infusion of a better class of men among them from 
England, the inevitable disgrace of the corps was prevented ; 
and eventually, with few trifling exceptions, the detachment 
established a character for discipline, good conduct, and use- 

On landing, the party was removed to t'.ie eastern heights of 
Passages to complete works for the protectii n of the shipping 
in the harbour. Here the royal marines employed for 




a time, as also a force of about 200 of the auxiliary lej^ion. 
Late in September, a few of tlic jjarty assisted in throwinij; uj) a 
work for the defence of a bridge leading into San Sebastian, and 
secured the position h'jld by the force on the left of Pas&jijjea. 
It was now understood that the Carlists intended to attack 
General Evans : a redoubt was forthwith constructed on a com- 
mandinjT hill in front of the enemy, and a battery for four guns 
and some breastworks were thrown up on the extreme left of 
the position. The legion furnished a working ])arty of 200 
men for these operations. On the Ist October, the enemy 
attacked the lines in front of San Sebastian, directing their fire 
principally on the picket-house, near which the battery was 
progressing. Against this battery, also, another battalion was 
sent, and having taken it, the column j)ressed on to the walls 
of the station ; but the party within reniaint>d firm, and the 
Carlists were ultimately driven from the contest with the loss of 
1,200 in killed and wounded. In this action were present four 
sappers, one of whom was wounded. 

On the 31st October, the detachment in Spain was increased 
to twenty-five non-commissioned officers and men, by the arrival 
of twelve rank and file from Woolwich, in the ' Rhadamanthus ' 
steamer, who were at once disposed of between San Sebastian 
and Passages, and assisted in the completion of the fort and 
barracks at the latter. 

Experiments with the pontoons of Colonel Pasley and Major 
Blanshard, took place at Chatham on the 1st July. Sir llussey 
Vivian, the Mastcr-CJeneral, wns present. For a few yea* j)re- 
vionsly, a ])ortion of the sunnuer of every year had been past 
in practically testing the projects of rival competitors for the 
passage of rivers ; but on this occasion the trial ended in fiivour 
of the cylindrical pontoon of Major Blanshard. In all these 
trials a detachment of the corps was employed, and in this, the 
last experiment, executed under the disadvantage of extreme 
heat, (Jolonel Pasley warmly praised the party for its zeal and 
activity in working the two bridges. 

With the mission to Turkey under the command of Captain 
du Plat, R.E., were embarked on the 15th September, two 




lance-sergeants of the corps on board the 'Astrea,' which 
entered the port of (^nstantinople on the 31st October. One 
was a surveyor conversant with the managen^ent of surveying 
instruments, and the other skilled in the details of the duties 
connected with the system of instruction carried out at Chat- 
ham. The mission took stores as presents to the Sultan. A 
sergeant of the royal artillery and a civil mechanic from the 
royal arsenal with Lieutenant Knowles, R.A., accompanied it. 
At the time of its arrival the plague was prevalent, and under 
orders from Ilis Majesty's ambassador at the Porte, the mission 
passed a few months in the ' Volage ' and ' Carysfort,' lying in 
the Bosphorus. When the plague abated, the presents wore 
conveyed to the Sultan — Mahmoud II. ; and his Highness as a 
token of satisfaction presented each officer and soldier with a 
gold medal,- and the artizan with a gold snuff-box. The non- 
commissioned officers of sappers who had the honour of receiving 
the distinction, were William Spry and William Richardson. 
Each medal bore a gold clasj), upon which was inscribed the 
name of the recipient and that of the Sultan. During their 
service with the mission each recfMved Is. Gd. a-day working 
pay, and on arrival in England in April, 1838, a gratiiity of 





Change in the dre«B — Increase of non-commissioned officers— Services of the 
detachment at Ametza (laiia — Oriunu-ndi — Desierto convent on tlie Nerviou 
- Fucntarabia — Oyarznn— \indoin — Miscellaneons employments of the de- 
tachment — Trigonometrical survey west coast of Scothind — Inspection 
at Woolwich by Lord Hill and Sir Iliissey Vivian — Staff' appointments — 
Lalmurs of sergeant Lanyon — Stall-siTgeants' accoutrements— iCxpedition to 
New Holland — Corporal Coles selected as the man Friday of his chief — Ex- 
ploration from lligli Hluff' Point to Hanover Kay; difficulties and trials of 
the trip; great thirst — Kxertions and critical situation of Coles— His coura- 
geous bearing — Touching instance of devotion to his chief— Employments 
of the party — Exploration into the interior with Coles and private' Mustard 
— Hardships in its prosecution — Threatened attack of the natives ; return to 
the camp. 

This year the oolour of the coatee was changed from red to 
scarlet — Plate XV\, and the Inijje Kilmarnock woven caj) was 
superseded by a neat superfine blue cloth cap, stiffened, with 
peak and cliin-strap. The sergeants were distinguished by 
black oak-leaf bands and gilt ornaments, comprising a grenade, 
encircled by a laurel wreath, and surmoimted by a crown and 
three chevrons. The other non-commissioned officers wore 
chevrons according to their ranks. The oil-skin chaco of the 
staff-sergeants was put aside for a forage-cap, with a guld oak- 
leaf band and gilt omamerts of a crown within a laurel-leaf. 

By a royal warrant dated 24th April, an increase of one 
sergeant, one corporal, and one second corporal was made to 
each company by reducing five privates per company. Recourse 
to this expedient was necessary on account of the control of the 
companies being much diminished by the several detached 
duties upon which non-commissioned officers were employed, as 
well as a number being always required to take charge of the 

VOL. I. X 




workshops and workinji; puicios. The stronj^tli of each coin- 
piiny was now fixed at 1 eolonr-8erf,'eant, 3 serj^oants, 4 t'or])o- 
rnls, 4 8Cfond-cor])oraU, 2 huj^lers, 75 privates ; efjual H[) ; 
which, for 11 companies, pave an estahlishuient of tl77. Tlio 
Corfu company, paid hy the Ionian fjovemment, did not, from 
its weak numbers, participate in tl e alteration. Its streiifjth, 
therefore 62, with the 3 officers and ..on-commissioned officers 
of the staff, made the total establishment of the corps sanc- 
tioned by the warra;it reach the total of 1,048. 'i'hc nund)cr 
reduced was* 22 privates. 

In the early months of the year the detachment in Spain was 
employed on the eastern heights of Passages in superintending 
the complnt'ion of the fort and barracks, and also on the island 
of Santa (Jlara in making platforms and repairing batteries. 

On the 10th March, seventeen of the party were ])rcsent in 
the attack on Ametza Gafia, and were subsequently employed 
in strengthening the redoubt previously occupied by the Carlists 
on that position. 

In the action at Oriamendi on the 15th and IGth March, 
they also served. Ten of the number assisted in levelling the 
enemy's parapets and destroying their barricades and works. 
The other seven, under Lieutenant Burmester, ll.E., did duty 
with the royal artillery commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Col- 
quhoun. Their help, readily afforded at a time when it was of 
much value, enabled a third gun to be brought into action ; 
and in cutting fuzes and loading shells, &c., they were found 
but little inferior to experienced artillerymen. Lord John Hay 
complimented Lieutenant Vicars upon the good service of this 
detachment ; and the officers of the royal and marine artillery 
were loud in their praises of the exertions of the sappers, and 
of the efficiency of their assistance at the guns. One private 
was wounded. 

A brief interval of repose followed, in which the detachment 
was occupied in fortifying the eastern entrance of Passages, 
also in barricading the advanced picket-house near that point, 
and in completing the batteries on Santa Clara. Four men 
were likewise detached to the river Nervion, and, with the 




crews of the ' Scylla ' and • Savapc,' restored the works of the 
Desierto convent wliich protected the communication with 
llilbao. On the return of tlie men, the commander of the 
' Savape ' brif? spoke most favourably of their conduct. 

In the operations of the army under Espartero on tlio 14th 
May, fifteen of the detachment were present and assisted in 
working the guns of the royal artillery. On the 17th they 
embarked to act in an attack on Fuentarabia, and were jjresent 
at its capitulation on the llSth May. Here the detaclnm nt 
restored one c*" tie ruined bastions of the fortress, and, In'sides 
making embrasures for two heavy guns, cleared away the debris 
from (itLcr parts of the defences and placed them in temporary 

At Oyarzun the Carlists were in the habit of creeping up to 
the town and annoying the troops. To prevent this, the bill 
above was crowned with a square redoubt for two ginis. Ten 
of the detachment superintended its construction, and the work 
was executed in so excellent a manner, that experienced officers 
spoke of it with imqualified satisfaction. The working party 
consisted of peasants who were skilful in the construction of 
earth-works, and zealous in the use of the spade and pickaxe. 

At the solicitation of General O'Donnell of the Spanish 
service, nineteen of the sappers, under the connnand of Lieutenant 
Vicars, were attached to his force. The party reached Aindoin 
on the 11 til September, and were set to work with a compjiny 
of Gastadores under them, on a height on the extreme left of 
the position. Very rapidly, a large hedge surrounding the 
height was turned into a j)arapet ; and in places where it was 
too high to cut down, loopholes were formed. A dense wood 
that joined the hedge was partly felled, and from its ample re- 
sources abattis were thrown oat in front of the line of hedge. 
For three days the work progressed ; at intervals under heavy 
rain ; and on the 13th September a formidable work of more 
than half a mile in length was ready to obstruct the advance of 
the enemy. At daylight on the 14th the Carlists opened fire 
on Aindoin, and the first shot went through the house where 
the sappers were quartered. At once they were withdrawn to 





the church, and ultimately removed to a circular fort to attend 
to orders either from Lord John Hay or General O'DonncU. 
Scarcely had they commenced the movement before the enemy 
approached the church with irresistible impetuosity, and drove 
the forces of O'Donnell from the town with signal disaster. 
The escape of the detachment of saj)pcrs was almost miraculous ; 
a few moments later would have thrown thorn wholly into the 
hands of the Carlists. 

During the later months of the year the detachment repaired 
Fort Morales, and the lines on the western heights of Passages. 
Tiiere also they fitted up barracks for the royal marines, and 
strengthened the advanced picket- house. Four of the men 
superintended a working party of the royal marines in com- 
pleting and arming the redoubts around San Sebastian, in 
which service much difficulty was experienced from the want of 
an adequate working party and materials. So impoverished 
were the stores, that to provide ])lanks and sleepers for the 
platforms and magazines, recourse was had to old splintered 
timbers from ruined sheds and buildings. Among other ser- 
vices performed by tlie detachment was the construction of a 
redoubt at Cachola on the high road from San Sebastian to 
Hernani, to protect that communication. 

On the 13th May, six rank and file were attached to Captain 
A. Henderson, R.E., and were employed for the fourth summer 
under his direction in the trigonometrical survey of the western 
coast of Scotland for the Admiralty. The nature of the opera- 
tions, as on former occasions, necessitated their encampment on 
the mountains ; and when the service closed in November, the 
party returned to Woolwich. 

Lord Hill and Sir Hussey Vivian, the Master-General, in- 
spected the seventh company and detachment of the coi-ps at 
('hatham on the 15th June, and afterwards witnessed the siege 
operations carried on by the troops and sappers under Colonel 
Warre. At the steadiness of the latter on parade, and the able 
manner in which the siege details were executed, hia lordship 
expressed the highest gratification ; and Colonel Warre, in his 
public orders of 16th June, also eulogised the corps for the 




cheerful and indefatigable manner in which they had worked in 
the field, adding, " that the construction of the works did credit 
to their skill as engineer workmen, and their appearance to 
their discipline and efficiency as soldiers." 

Second-Captain Henry Sandham, R.E., by commission dated 
1st August, was appointed adjutant to the corps at Chatham 
vice Captain Jebb promoted. The latter had filled the office 
with much advantage to the public service ; and his many 
excellent qualities, as evinced in the discharge of his duties, 
commanded the esteem of the corps, and caused him to be 
much regretted at his leaving. 

Sergeant Hugh L lyon, after Sergeant-major Forbcs's re- 
moval, was appointed to the charge of the detachment at Sand- 
hurst College, and carried on the field details in every way to 
the satisfaction of the authorities. For many years, as a private 
and non-commissioned officer, he worked at the college, and his 
example had the best effect on the successive parties with which 
he served. As a practical sapper he was one of the ablest and 
most skilful in the corps, and in the rapidity with whicl; he 
threw up earth-works was unsurpassed. Sir Cliarles Pasley has 
done him honour by noticing the extraordinary labours of the 
sergeant in his ' Practical Operations for a Siege.' ' His wil- 

' Pages 51 and 57, notes, 1st part, 2nii edit. It may be tolerated to mention 
tlie instances in which Lanyon figured, to deserve the record. In Octolier, 
1828, he finished a parallel in very easy soil of 2(12 cubic feet in 2 hours and 41 
minutes, whilst an able-bodied sapper, unskilful at the pickaxe and the sbovol, 
only completeil the sanu! content of excavation in 8 hours and 4 mil .-s ! 
Thirty men were employed at the same time at similar tasks, the result of 
whose labours showei' that for each man, strong; and trained, it required to 
execute the work an average period of 4 hours and 54 minutes. The other 
instance refers to his. completing the first task of a parallel, nearly 10!) cubic 
feet, in easy soil in \u minutes. In the Peninsula sieges, no more than 42 
cubic feet of excavation ujipears to have been excavated by each imliviilual of 
tlie military working parties as his first night's vork ; but at the rate which 
rendered lyaryon celebrated, an active workman in these sieges ought to have 
finished his first night's task in seven minutes ! The comparison niiikes the 
difference so excessive, that creilulity has scarcely sullicient tension to accredit 
it; but coming from an authority so proverbial for his accuracy, there is no 
alternative hut to wonder at the achievements of the man who so signalized 
himself as a sapper; and to add, with the Colonel, the expression of mortifica- 
tion, "that the exertituis of the British army should have fallen so miserably 
short o" 'heir hiilliant exploits in the field." 




Iingiiess and ability in this respect, covered, in great measure, 
his educational deficiencies. In charge of the detachment he 
displayed his usual industry and exertion, kept his men in per- 
fect discipline and order, and the excellent work resulting from 
their united efforts elicited an encomium in a popular periodical 
very creditable to the sergeant and his party.' Indeed, so 
effectually were all the instructional operations carried out, that 
the governor of the college, with the sanction of the Master- 
General, presented him in November with a case of drawing 
instruments, bearing an inscription flattering to his zeal and 

Late in the year the shoulder-belt of the staff-sergeants was 
superseded by a buff waist-belt, two inches broad, having car- 
riages for the sword, with gilt plate, buckles, swivels, and hooks. 
The plate bore the royal arms — without supporters — within a 
wreath, with the motto "Ubique" at its base, and above, a 
crown. The sword was the same as issued in 1824, and as at 
present worn, but adapted by rings to be slung to the improved 
accoutrement. — See Plate XVI., 1854. 

Under orders fi-om Lord Glenelg, the Secretary of State for 
the Colonies, corporals John Coles and Richard Auger were 
attached to the New Holland expedition under Captain Grey, 
the object of which was to gain information as to the real state 
of the interior and its resources. On the 5th July, 1837, they 
sailed in the ' Beagle ' from Plymouth, and at the Cape of 
Good Hope were removed into the ' Lynher ' schooner. There, 

« 'Uuited Service Journal,' ii. IS.I?, p. 27U. 

' Lanyon was afterwards promoted to be a colour-sergeant, and passed a few 
years in Canada during tlie revolt. On his return, his health, shattered by the 
exertions of his laborious life, caused him to leave the corps. Obtaining a 
situation as surveyor on the Trent and Mersey canal under Mr. Foibes, his 
former fellow labourer, he devoted himself to his new duties with his accus- 
tonieit zeal : t)Ut in a few short months his powerful frame broke up, and he 
died at Lawton in Cheshire, in June, 1840. The integrity of his conduct and 
the utility of his services induced the directors of the company to honour his 
remains by the erection of a tomb to his memory. Here it would be proper to 
notice, he was one cf those brave and humane miners who, in the 'Cambria,' 
bound for Vera Cruz, assisted to rescue the crew and passengers from the 
burning ' Kent' Kast Indiaman, in the Hay of Hiseay, in Kebruary, 182.'j. The 
soids saved were 55 1 , including 3U 1 officers and men, iXi w omen, and 45 children 
of the 31st regiment. 




private Robert Mustard joined the party, and all reached 
Hanover Bay, \Vestern Australia, on the 2nd December. 

Captain Grey had early formed a good opinion of corporal 
Coles and made him his chief subordinate.^ He was empha- 
tically his man Friday, and his conduct in striking instances of 
suffering and peril was marked by unfaltering devotion and 
fortitude, combined with diligence and humanity. Auger was 
'jack of all trades ;' the mechanic and architect ; equally a 
tailor and a tinker ; the ready mender of boats, and the efficient 
millwright and armourer of the party. 

C)n the day of arrival the Captain landed with five persons 
and three dogs at High Bluff Point, to explore from thence to 
Hanover Bay. Coles w;d one of the number. The sun was 
intensely hot. A long confinement on shii)-board had made them 
unequal to much exertion. Forward, however, they journeyed, 
without the advant^ige of trees or foliage to screen them from 
the oun's burning rays. The country, too, was rocky ; and its 
surface, jagged and torn into crevices, being overgrown with 
spinifex and scrub, they frequently either slipped or fell into 
the covered fissures. Soon the party vas overcome by thiret 
and lassitude. Two pints of water was all that wiis brought 
from the ship, and this, shared with the panting dogs, left but 
little for the adventurers. As time wore on, their weariness, 
before excessive, became worse, and the dogs falling back ex- 
hausted, were never recovered. W ater was at length observed 
at the bottom of a ravine, and down its precipitous slopes Coles 
and others scrambled, only to mock the thirst they craved to 
satiate, for the inlet was salt water ! However, f.fter travelling 
for about another mile, fortune favoured theni with a pool of 
brackish water, from which they drank freely.^ 

WMiilst the party rested by the jiool, Captain Grey, accom- 
panied by (Jole:*, exjjlored tlu; ravine, and then returning, led 
the party into the country by a fertile valley surrounded by 
rocky hills. Not long after, the thirst and fatigue so dreaded 
l)(!fore, recurred in an aggravated form, and some were almost 
(•{(inplotely worn out by it. To march through the night witii- 

* ' Grey's Travels,' 1841, i. p. ;)j. '' Ihid., 1841, i. p. 07-71. 




out fresh water was next to impossible ; and as a last effort to 
obtain relief, the Captain pushed on for the coast, directing that 
when he fired, Mr. Lushington with the party should follow.' 

The arranged signals being given and answered, the party 
moved on. Corporal Coles wjis in the van, and forcing his way 
over broken rocks and down steep cliffs, he was the first to 
reach the Captain. At this spot he followed the example of his 
chief, and, plunging into the sea, refreshed his strength and 
appeased his thirst. Mr. Lushington and the sufferers now 
arrived, and, leaving them to try the effect of bathing, the 
Captain and his corporal moved along the coast to find the 
' Lynhcr,' and send a boat to the party. About two miles they 
had journeyed when their progress was arrested by an arm of 
the sea, about 500 yards across. Coles kept firing his gun in 
hopes it might be heard on board. From hill to hill and cliff 
to cliff, its report re-echoed, but no answering sound came 
back. The Captain now resolved to swim the arm ; and as 
Coles was unskilful in the water, he was directed to wait until 
the others came up and remain with them until the Captain 
returned. The latter then plunged into the sea, and left Coles 
aione in that solitary spot with wild and rugged cliffs over- 
hanging the shore, and the haunts of savages in his vicinity.' 

After dark the flashes of the guns had been seen by the 
schooner, and a boat was instantly despatched for the jjarty. 
Coles was the first found ; but fearing, if he then availed him- 
self of the protection of the boat, he would lose the clue by 
which to trace the Captain, he directed the mate to pass on for 
the others. They were soon picked up, and returning for Coles, 
he wiis found at his post — one of danger and honour — and 
taken into the b(tat ivith his companions. The other shore was 
soon reached and tlio Captain found.** 

"Have you a little water?" he asked, as he entered the 
boat. "Plenty, sir!" answered Coles, handing him a little, 
which the Captain greedily swallowed. That choice drop of 
water was all that was in the boat when Coles was picked u]>. 

" 'fiix-y's Travi'ls,' 1841, i. p. 71-71. 
llii.l., i. p. 73-76. " Ilml-, i. p. 7!i. 




and although he suffered severely from thirst, he would not 
taste it as long as he retained any hope that his chief might be 
found and be in want of it.' 

For several days the sappers and others of the expedition 
were employed in searching for water, ttiking short exploratory 
tri])s, and in removing the live stock and stores from the 
'Lynher' to the location fixed upon by Captain Grey. To 
facilitate the service, a rude pathway was formed by firing the 
bush, and removing, with much toil, the rocks and vegetation. 
So rough was the track that a wheelbarrow could not be used 
upon it, and every burden was, therefore, necessarily carried on 
the men's shoulders. By the 10th December, the country had 
been taken ])ossession of, and the encampment completed.'" 

On the following evening. Captain Grey with corporal 
Coles and private Mustard, started from the camp to penetrate 
some distance into the interior. Confident in the steadiness and 
courage of his men he felt no anxiety. Each carried ten days' 
provisions, a day's water, and his arms and ammunition. Thus 
laden, in a tropical climat?, their progress was slow and 
laborious. Their route lay through a region of romantic 
beauty. Now they were urging their course through deep 
ravines alive with the gush of water and the foaming of 
cascades : now threading their tiresome way through the 
devious forest with its i)rickly grasses and cnbingled bush. 
Again they wore climbing crumbling ranges, scrambling down 
precipices, tearing themselves through mangroves and densely- 

matt-"' vcgetfition. 


some wild broken land, or 

wornnng themselves among lofty and isolated columns of sand- 
stone mantled with fragi-ant creepers, which, like the remains of 
ruined temples of classic ages, afforded indubitable evidence 
of the ravag(*s of time upon rock and range. \\'lierever they 
journeyed, they found the same diaos — beautiful in its wildness 
and eccentricity — rich in its luxuriance and picturesqueness." 

Nearly six days were s{)cnt in this march, and the trials 
endured were only a prelude to what were to follow. Kice and 

" • (;iv)'s TravoU,' 1811, i. p. 7H. 
Ibid., i. p. Hi ill. " Ibid , i. p. 9.:l-|ii7, 




tea in small quantities formed the staple of their diet. An 
occasional slice from a pheasant's bretist, or a bite from the 
remains of a crane left by the rats, gave relish to their repast. 
The Captain was the game purveyor to the party and MusUird 
its Soyer. On the first night they slept in a bark hut of their 
own making at the foot of a towering precipice ; the second 
was passed under some overhanging rock& On the other three 
nights they bivouacked on the slopes of the glens under the 
lightning's vivid flash, exposed to the rains of violent thunder- 
storms. Early in the journey Mustard became ill, but he was 
soon sufficiently recovered to sustain the toils and privations of 
discovery and the discomfort of unsheltered sleep. Dripping 
wet, tired, weary and hungry, these brave men carried out the 
purposes of their mission, and, with unwavering faithfulness and 
zeal, penetrated wherever their chief desired. " Three of us," 
writes the Captain, " slept in the open air without any covering 
or warm clothes for five successive nights, during three of which 
we had constant showers of heavy rain, and yet did not in any 
way suffer from this exposure." "* 

AVant of food at length compelled t)ie adventurers to return. 
Having gained the summit of a range, the rain began to fall in 
torrents. To escape it they retired to a detached group of r^^' v j. 
A party of fourteen savages now appeared, brandishing their 
sj)ears, bounding from rock to rock, and making the wilderness 
ring with their war cry. This was answered by a party coming 
over the high rock in rear of the travellers. In this critical 
situation a hostile attitude was at once taken up. There was a 
natural opening like an embrasure between thr hlotks of the 
rock, through which they could level their pieces, and each 
gallant fellow took his station, with orders to fire one by one if 
the command were given. The Captain fired over their heads ; 
but this one report w.os quite enough, for the savages fled on all 
sides, and the party thus left to itself, hurried home through a 
tcjnpest of rain and reached the cantonment before nightfall on 
the 22iid December.'^ 

i-c> s 


41, i. p. 248. 

'" Ibid,, i. p. 'J.'>-1()7. 






Services of party in New Holland — Start for the interior — Labours of the 
expedition ; corporal Auger — Captain Grey and corporal Coles expect an 
attack — Attitude of private Auger at the camp against the menace of the 
natives — Captain (Jrey and Coles attacked ; their critical situation ; the 
chief wounded ; devotion of Coles — Usefulness of Aager^ — Kenew the march ; 
Auger finds a singular ford — Discovers a cave with a sculptured face in it — 
Mustard traces the spoor of a quadruped still unseen in New Holland — A 
sleep in the trees — Trials of the party — Primitive washing — Auger the van 
of the adventurers — Humane attention of the Captain to Mustard ; reach 
Hauover Hay; arrive at the Mauritius — Detachment in Spain — Attack on 
Orio — Usurvil; Oyarzun — Miscellaneous employments of the party — Rein- 
forcement to it; Casa Aquirre — Orio— Secret mission to Munagorri — Second 
visit to the same chief — Notice of corporal John Down — Hidassoa — Triangu- 
lation of north of Scotland— Also of the Frith of the Clyde — Insurrection in 
Canada ; guard of honour to Lord Durham — Company inspected by the 
Governor-General on the plains of Ahrah<im — Inspection at Niagara by Sir 
George Arthur — Services and movements of the company in Canada; attack 
at Beauharnois — Submarine demolition of wrecks near Gravesend — Expe- 
dient to prevent accidents by vessels fouling the diving-bell lighter — Con- 
duct of the sappers in the operations; exertions of sergeant-major Jones — 
Fatal accident to a diver — Intrepidity of sergean, Iloss and Young — Blasting 
the bow of the brig ' William,' by sergeant-major „ mes — Withdrawal of the 
sappere from the canal at Hythc. 

Some weeks of the early year were spent by Captain Grey and 
his men in a variety of occupations preparatory to a long journey 
into the interior. Sheds were built for the stores, pack-saddles 
made by corporal Auger for the Tiniour horses, and short 
excursions through wood and wilderness undertaken. Path- 
ways were also constructed for the horses in forest and glen, 
without which it would have been impracticable to pursue their 
course. These were formed by burning the bush, and removing, 
by mauuiil strength and dexterity, huge boulders and fallen 
trees levelled by age and storm, that everywhere intercei)ted 
the track. 




On the 3rd February the exi)edition was in motion. Twenty- 
six wild ponies were attached to tlie party. Each man had three 
or four of these giddy unbroken animals in charge, fastened 
together by ropes. From the ponies straying in different direc- 
tions, and getting frequently entangled with rocks and trees, the 
difficult nature of the service was greatly increased. As beasts 
of burden they were of little use. In steep ravines or in rugged 
country, the stores were almost wholly carried by the adven- 
turers ; and this, coupled with the task of guiding the untamed 
horses and the hard travelling in a rocky country abounding 
with clefts, thick bush, and forest, made the route one of 
unmitigated toil and fatigue. In these duties corporal Auger 
particularly distinguished himself ; for, " possessing the power of 
carrying on his back very heavy burdens, he took every occasion 
of exercising it in such a way as to stimulate the others and 
very much to accelerate the movements of the expedition."' 

With corporal Coles the captain started on the 6th February 
to explore the country in his front. Coming to a deep ravine 
with a body of water at its base, he wished to find a passage 
out of it. Both searched for many hours until after sunset, but 
without avail. The ravine was bounded by inaccessible cliffs 
with other ravines branching into it, which " invariably ter- 
minated in precipitous ctiscades." A great portion of the 
exploration was spent in wading the flooded valley up to their 
bellies in water. On their return homewards they came upon 
a large party of natives, and Coles followed the captain up the 
northern slope of the ravine ready for an attack ; but the 
savages moved on without molesting the weary travellers.'* 

Five days afterwards corporal Auger and two men were left 
at the camp, while the rcjt of the expedition were detached. 
About two hundred of the natives assembled across a stream at 
the foot of a hill near to them. They were armed. At the 
time of their appearance Auger was quietly seated on the 
ground cleaning Lie\itenant Lushington's double-barrelled gun, 
with its springs, screws, and cramps lying around him. Seeing 
his comrades nervous-ly j)erturbe(l, he coolly refixed one of the 

' ' Givy's Travels,' i. p. l:il-i;H). ' Ibid., i. p. 136-I3!<. 




barrels, and mounting the lock, loaded the gun with some loose 
powder. Meanwhile the two men turned out with their muskets, 
and the trio posting themselves on the brow of the hill, motioned 
the savages away. They answered by a shout, and retired a 
little ; when Auger and the party now took counsel, and 
agreeing that it would be imprudent with their small number 
to hold intercourse with so large a force of natives, they resolved 
not to allow them to approach beyond a point which they con- 
sidered safe ; " and in the event of any armed portion passing 
the stream towards the tents in defiance of their signals, to fire 
on them one by one." These cautious resolves, however, it 
was unnecessary to enforce, as the savages, after Auger had 
given them a blank discharge, hurried off in the direction of 
Captain Grey.^ 

The Captain, accompanied by Coles and a Cape man, had 
been out since the morning examining tlie country to choose a 
route for the next day's march, and were working with all their 
energies at a road for the horses, when the savages from the 
camp poured into the forest. The Cape man, who was in the 
rear, first saw them ; and instead of calling to Coles or the 
Captain for assistance, took to his heels, pursued by the natives. 
The three were now engaged for their lives, and taking up 
a position behind some rocks, the men were directed to fire 
separately. Coles was armed with the Captain's rifle, but it 
was covered with a cloth case for protection against the rain. 
This becoming entangled with the lock, his services at a critical 
moment were lost. The Captain now gave Coles his gun to 
complete the reloading, and taking the rifle, tore off^ the cover 
and stept from behind the rocks. In an instant three spears 
pierced his body, but a deadly shot from the rifle slew the 
principal antagonist. The combat at once ceased ; but, though 
it had only lasted a few seconds, the spears .1 weapons 
strewn in such abundance about that wild position gave proof of 
its severity. Neither Coles nor the Cape man was injured, but 
the Captain was badly wounded. Coles bound up the Captain's 
hip wound as well as he could, and supporting him with his 
•' ' Grey's Travels,' i. p. 144. 




arm, assisted him homewards. Some hours were spent in the 
journey. Tiie track was lost, and the ('aptain, leaning more 
and more heavily on Coles, showed signs of increasing weakness. 
A beaten route at last was gained and a stream in its vicinity 
crossed; but the Captain, in the effort, strained his wounded 
hip and fell on the opposite shore unable to rise. Coles, with 
his usual devotion, volunteered to go alone to the party and send 
assistance. This he did, bounding over rock and cliff, through 
wood and scrub, jumping gaping rifts, and fording streams with 
the natives on his trail. In a short hour, through his unflinching 
ardour and daring, the surgeon and Mr. Lushington were 
ministering to the wants of the wounded chiefs The only 
drawback to this day's steadiness and fidelity was the loss, by 
Coles, of the Captain's valuable note-book.'* The nipple of the 
rifle injured by Coles in his eagerness to remove the case, was 
fciken out by Auger ; but lacking proper tools, several days 
were spent in niggling perseverance, to drill it out with a brad- 

The expedition was now delayed for a time ; and corporal 
Auger, whose ingenuity and skill as a carpenter had frequently 
been of service, made the Captain a low stretcher to lie upon, 
which gave him a little more ease." To relieve him, moreover, 
from unnecessary discomfort and pain. Auger, with feeling 
solicitude, carried the chief in his arms at times when he seemed 
to need it, to convenient distances in the vicinity of the tent. 
Athletic and careful, he was not a bad su})stitute for a sedan. 

On the 27th February the party was again in motion, but 
their progress was slow. Much time was spent in constructing 
pathways in ravines and clefty land otherwise inaccessible, and 
in finding fords over streams, and passages across swamps. To 
one ford Captain Grey particularly alludes. On the 27th 
March, he and his party sought for a ford across a river about 
a hundred yards wide in S. Lat. 15" 49', E. Long. 125° 6', 
but their efforts were fruitless. It therefore appeared inevitable 
that the winding of the river should be followed, or the party 

♦ 'Grey's Travels,' i. p. 1.54. 
» Ibid., i. p. 1.53. • Ibid., i. p. l.-iS. 




branched off in another direction to find an open route in 
advance. Tliis surmise was not very agreeable. Auger pon- 
dered a little over this aspect of the journey, and soon resolved 
to make a survey of the stream untrammelled by the presence 
of any one. Accordingly, disposing of a hasty breakfast, he 
started alone to the river, and returned in about an hour 
reporting he had found one. The ponies were at once moved 
on, and as they wound through it following a circuitous course, 
it was nowhere Icj-s than knee deep, but on each side, at times, 
the water was dangoroiissly high. " I could not," writes the 
Captain, " but admire the perseverance of Auger, in having 
discovered so intricate a ford as this was."' 

Two or three nights before finding tiiis ford lie tied liimself 
among the branches of a stunted acacia-tree, and shaken by the 
wind slept as soundly as in a cradle rocked by an attentive 
nurse. He did this to escape the wet and chills of the stony 
ground on which the travellers bivouacked and rested during 
the darkness. 

Much labour was given in tracing the courses of rivers, the 
direction of mountain ranges, and acquiring information of the 
physical features of the country, and of its natural liistory." 
All these services were not accomplished without much exertion 
and diligence. To scale the mountain side, to creep down the 

' ' Grey's Travi-ls,' i. p. 209. 

" Auger accompnnied Cnptain Grey on one occasion to examine a sandstone 
ridge in the hope of finding egress from it. After proceeding some distance 
the corporal discovered a cave, in wliicli was an intaglio face and head cut in 
the rock, of rather sujicrior workmanship for an untutored savage; and 
Captain Grey has distinguished the work by giving a drawing of it in his 
Travels. Vol. i. p. 2()G. 

Private Mustard, who had been at the Cape of Good Hope, brought his 
experience to bear upon tlic present service. He discovered the spoor of a 
large quLdrtipud with a divided hoof. He had seen like impressions at the 
Cape. Captain Grey conceiving that Mustard had made some mistake, paid no 
attention to his report, until he afterwards saw traces of the animal himsv-lf. 
On one occasion the Captain followed its track for a mile and a half, when it 
was lost in rocky ground. The footmarks were larger than those of a buffalo, 
and it was apparently more bulky, for where it had passed through the brush- 
wood, shrubs in its way of considerable size, had been crushed aside or broken 
down. The animal has not yet been seen. Its existence is, however, asserted, 
from the peculiarity of the spoor. Vol. i. p. 242, ' Grey's Travels.' 




perilous declivity, to wade the inornss, to traverse a wild country 
torn into fissureS; and cncunihered by rocks and scrubs and a 
dense vegetation, were hut their common daily task ; hut when 
to these exertions are added the trials arising fi'oni privation, 
constant exposure to the sun and the storm, the hare shelter hy 
night of some overhanging cliff or frail tent, with the discomfort 
of being, for days together, unable to undress or wash them- 
selves, a faint glimpse only is caught of the hariussing and 
difficult nature of their duties, their weariness, their sufferings 
and hardships. 

The mode of refreshing themselves by washing was as primi- 
tive as inconvenient, hut the trying nature of the service led 
them to find contentment in the roughest resources. Full 
dressed, they often j)lunged into the lakes to scrap»» and wash 
away the accumulations of days from their persons and clothes ; 
and on emerging from the waters, bearing th(>ir dri])ping suits 
on their backs, they ran about to prevent colds or rheumatic 
seizures, while the sun steamed off the moisture from their 
threadbare garments. 

Corporal Auger in these wanderings was the chief dependent. 
Uncompromising, he was straightforward in his duties ; enter- 
prising, he feared nothing. On most occiisions he was sent 
ahead of the party to pace the distance, to find the track 
through regions of country covered with rank grass more than 
fourteeii feet high, and to discover fords to assist the progress 
of the wayfarers and thus preveni depressing and harassing 
detours or returns. The moral courage of that man must 
indeed have been great, who was the first to penetrate a 
shrouded and unbroken stretch of solitude, unaware of the 
dangers in which his every step might suddenly have involved 

The expedition had now penetrated two rivers beyond the 
Glenelg and Prince Regent, ai.a then turned towards Hanover 
Bay. On 1st April they started, encountering difficulties of a 
character similar to those already borne with such cheerfulness 
and fortitude. Seven days of their journey found private 
Mustard crippled from falling into a crevice in the rock. Here 


1838. J 



the Captain, tliouph mifft'ring himaclf from the wound in his 
hip, yielded his horse for Mustard's convenience. On tiio 
15th April, the party reached Hanover liay, havinj^ lost nearly 
all their live stock and fifteen of their jumies. A few tnore 
days were occupied in collecting the stores and shipping them, 
when the expedition sailed for the Isle of France and arrived 
on the 17th May. The three shippers were landed in a very 
sickly and emaciated state, and during their stay at the Mau- 
ritius were under medical treatment in hospital. 

On the 27th ,Ianuary, nineteen ntm-commissioncd officers and 
privates of the detachment serving with the naval force under 
the command of Lord John I lay at San Sehastian, were present 
with General O'Donnell's army in an attack on the village of 
Orio, and burnt and sank several flat-bottomed boats under the 
fire of musketry from the opposite side of the river. 

On the following day, at the request of the Spanish general, 
the same sjippers were despatched to Usurvil to intrench and 
fortify a large garden at the outskirts of the village. The work 
was instantly commenced ; but when the party was about to 
destroy the bridge which had been partially broken. General 
O'Donnell changed his intention and the sappers returned to 
San Sebastian. Shortly after, the detachment marched with the 
marine battalion to Oyarzun to cover the operations of General 
G Donnell at Bera. 

About this period the available men of the party fitted up 
the ' Columbia ' steamer for the accommodation of troops, and 
a storehouse for the use of the squadron. At Passages, also, 
the carpenters converted the church into a commissariat dep6t 
for stores and provisions, and strengthened and improved the 
fortifications around San Sebastian and the heights. All the 
works were cjirried out with difficulty ; for the Spanish autho- 
rities could scarcely command the use of a plank or even a nail 
for their purposes, and it was only by the force of habitual and 
urgent requisitions, that they could be induced to press for any 
materials for the service of the department. 

By the * Alonzo' transport a reinforcement of eleven rank 
and file arrived in May, increasing the detachment to thirty-one 

VOL. I. Y 




of all ranks. Late in the month, these men, with others of the 
party, were, at the recommendation of General O'Donnell, 
detached to Casa Aquirre on the left of Venta, to render it 
sufficiently defensive to receive the garrison of Astigaraga in the 
event of its heing compelled to retire. The working \yt'rty con- 
sisted of a company of the Spanish marine hatt.ilion of seventy 
soldiers and twenty peasants, and the position was completed 
with the necessary works by March, 1839. 

On the 24th June, twenty-five of the detachment moved with 
a part of the army to the river Orio, and, under fire, levelled 
the parapets and works of the (]!arlists. 

In October, four men of the party in plain clothes under 
orders of secrecy, accompanied C >lonel Colquhoun of the royal 
artillery, and Lieutenant Vicars of the engineers, to the head- 
quarters of Mufiagorri, to assist in putting him in motion and 
to secure his position. The mission reached Sara on the 17th, 
then passed to a hill to the east of La Rune mountain, about 
four miles from the village, where the chief was posted, and 
afterwards to St. Jean Pied de Port ; but owing to the opposition 
of Aquirre, the commandant of Valcarlos, who would not allow 
the pacificators to take up quarters in his neighbourhood, the 
expedition, unable from this cause to assist the Fuerist chief, 
returned to ScUi Sebastian on the 24th October. 

The same sappers, in plain clothes iis before," accomjianied 
the above-named officers on a second mission to Mufiagorri in 
November. The party reached St. Jean Pied dc; Port via 

" The senior i)f whom was second-corporal John Down, aftervunls sergeant. 
In Septcmtier, 1835, while pontconing in the MeJway at Hailing, he plunged 
into the river and saved from drowning, by means of an oar, private F. Adams 
'•* the corps. He also relieved from a very precarious situation lance-corporal 
Woodhead, of the Honourable East India Company's sappers, who had jumped 
in to assist private Adams. For his courage and humanity the lioyal Humane 
Society granted Down a pecuniaiy reward, and his officers gave Iiim a military 
hold-all, containing the usual articles, chiefly of silver, bearing on a silver 
plate this inscription — " Presented by his officers to private John Down for his 
gallant conduct in rescuing a comrade from drowning." This nou-commis- 
sioued officer served two stations at Gibraltar and Uernmda, and being pen- 
sioned at Is. Od. iu October, 1849, retired to Chatham, where be is now filling 
the humble but sufficient situation of puvnp-master to the Darracks at 




Bayonnc on the 5th. Aquirrc, actinj^ under tlic orders of 
Esj)artoro, was firm in his resolution to resist the pacifi- 
cators in the occupation of Valcarlos ; and as lie would not 
yield a ])ass to the force of Mufiagorri, the i)roject of enter- 
injf Spain at Valcarlos was necessarily abandoned, and the 
expedition once more retraced its steps to San Sebastian, where 
it arrived on the IGth. 

LaU; in the same month, twelve men of the detachment were 
sent to the Bidassoa to fortify the position taken up by the 
Fnerist chief. A fatality attended all his movements and j)ro- 
jccts. St. Marcial had been fixed upon by him to establish his 
force there ; but before the operation could be effected, the 
Queen's troops under General O'Donnell were already in pos- 
session of it, and the approach of Mufiagorri was therefore 
interdicted. Another position, however, was soon selected near 
the Bidiissoa, and a redoubt forthwith commenced. Sixty 
})easan{s from San Sebastian and a small force from the ranks 
of the Fuerists formed the working party. The latter were 
indolent to the last degree, and even the presence of Mufiagorri 
and Jarregui failed to inspire them with the necessary energy. 
The saj)pers worked from morning till nightfall, and ofte.i 
remained on duty tlu! enlin; day, exj)osed the whole time to 
the drenching storm. All the works were marked out, and 
every det;vil for the defence was conducted by the sajiiiers xaider 
the direction of Lieuteuiiiit Vicars, and their zeal and ustful- 
n(!ss were nt'ticed in eonnneudatory terms. ^Vfter completing 
the defences, the party rejoiued Lord John Hay's force early in 
January, 1839. 

In May oi e sergeant and twelve privates were 'letached to 
the north of Scotland, and emi)loyed on the trigonometrical 
survey of that part of the (rountry until December under the 
direction of Lieutenant Robinson, royal engineers. This moun- 
tain detachment endured nmch fatigue in ciirrying out the 
service, and for their diligence and exertion in conducting the 
operation, received a high character. 

Six rank and tile were employed on a simihu- duty at tiie 
Frith of the Clyde under Ca|)tuin A. Henderson, R.Il., and 

Y t 




rejoined the corps on the 24th October. The men were 
selected on account of their physical strength, and were in 
every respect found equal to the arduous requirements of the 

The insurrection in the Canadas, headed hy Papincau, in- 
duced the Government to send a com])any to that colony. 
Captain Colin Mackenzie with one sergeant and thirty-seven 
rank and fil<> went out in the ' Hastings,' seventy-four, as a 
guard of honour to Lord Durham when his lordship was 
appointed Governor-General in Canada. Tiie remainder, three 
sergeants and forty-five rank and file, sailed in the steamer 
' Dee.' The guard of honour landed at Quebec on the 29th 
May, and the ' Dee ' detachment on the 14*li June. A pro- 
portionate quantity of intrenching tools and engineer stores were 
landed with the company. 

At the celebration of Iler Majesty's coronp*'on on the plains 
of Abraham in June, 1838, the Earl of Du nam minutely in- 
spected the company, and in the presence of several general 
officers, noticed the steadiness with which the company marched 
past. Tliis expression the Governor-General repeated at the 
chateau of St. Louis on the 28th June, and added, tliat the 
soldier-like appearance of the sappers and their steadiness 
under arras exceeded his expectiitions. The good conduct of 
the company also elicited his lordship's approbation. 

While at Niagara, on the 11th S'.ptember, the company was 
reviewed by jVIajor-General Sir George Arthur, with the King's 
dragoon guards and 43rd regiment, and his Excellency spoke 
in praise of the appearance of the company, its marching and 

Koon after, the head -quarters of the company were removed 
to the Niagara frontier to place it in a state of defence. The 
work of reparation commenced with Fort Mississaqua. About 
this time twelve non-commissioned officers and men were re- 
moved, for engineer services, to Amherstburg, and another party 
of twenty-two of all ranks was detached to Montreal. The 
latter was detained at Cornwall for a few days by Major Phill- 
potts of the corps, and, under Lieutenant Roberts, formed the 




advanced guard with a detachment of the 71st light infantry, 
in a successful attack on the rebels at Bcauharnois on the 10th 
November, 1838. The good conduct of this party was acl.aow- 
ledgcd by Colonel Carmichael who commanded the attack. 

A novel duty now devolved upon the corps in the subaqueous 
destruction of the brig ' William,' sunk off Tilbury Fort in 
May, 1837, and the schooner ' Glenmorgan,' wrecked in 
Gravesend Reach several yea-^ before. The wrecks were im- 
pediments to navigation ; and the Lord Mayor, after consulting 
Colonel Pasley, determined to have the vessels destroyed by 
gunpowder. Operations commenced on the 19th May by a 
detachment of thirty non-commissioned officers and men of the 
8th company, under the direction of Captain Yule, royal engi- 
neers, and in a few days the wrecks were blown to pieces by two 
great charges of gunpowder of 2340 lbs. each. The object 
desired was thus satisfactorily attained. The sappers executed 
all the minor fitments not requiring the skill of shipwrights. 
They also descended in the diving-bell and diving-helmet, 
managed the movements of the former, and besides preparing 
and executing the mining details of the operation, assisted the 
seamen and the riggers in the naval arrangements.'" The men 
in the diving-bell were exposed to great danger from the violent 
action, on two occasions, of the ebb and flood tides, and had 
they not been very resolute men, would have given up the 

During the service, a vessel ran foul of the diving-bell 
lighter, and carried it above a quarter of a mile up the river, 
disconnecting the great cylinder containing the charge. The 
next day, sergeant-major Jones, acting with the leading rigger, 
" got the lighter very nearly back into her former place over the 
wreck, and recovered the cylinder and leaden pipe from the 
bottom of the river." To prevent the recurrence of a similar 
accident, the guard of the detachment on board, kej)t up a brisk 
fire of blank cartridges when any vessel approached them in tlie 
night, which had the desired effect." 

"' ' Va'itvA Service Journal,' iii. 1838, p, 45, 274. 
" Ibid., iii. p. 41, 42. 




Of thc! " indofatijsablc exc.+ions of the sappers,'' Colonel 
Pasley made j)articular mention in his officijil report, and added, 
" it was a pleasure to see them, aid thc seamen and rigf^ers, 
workinfT so cheerfully tojrether." ■' Sergeant-major Jones," 
writes the Colonel, "who is equally sk Iful and active as a miner 
{ind a pontonser, was quite in his elon.ent."'^ 

The o])erations did not terminate without the occurrence of 
a nielaucholy accident. On the 21st of Msiy, Corporal Henry 
Mitchell, who had been practised as a diver for a short time in 
the jNIcdway, was sent down in a diving-helmet to fix a ccmple 
of eye-bolts to the side of the ' William,' preparatory to thc first 
exj)losion. " After examining the wreck, he cjime up and gave 
a favourable account of his prospects," aud thin " took his tools 
and descended again ; but owing to a rope fixed roiuid him 
having become entangled in the wreck, the signals usually made 
l)y pulling this rope could not be distinguished ;" nor could he 
be drawn to the surface of the water. On Colonel Pasley 
reaching the wreck, and as soon as the necessary arrangements 
could be completed, sergeants John Ross and James Young 
with two privates, voluntirily descended a second time in the 
diving-bell, and after a few minutes' careful exertion, succeeded 
in finding their comrade ; but he was quite dead, hiiving been 
at the bottom upwards of twelve hours. The intrepid conduct 
of these non-commissioned officers was much applauded.''' 

The great exi)losions above referred to, had not, it was ascer- 
tained, touched the bow of the brig ' A\'illiam ;' and in August 
operations were resumed to destroy it. The entire service, 
except the duty of diving, devolved on the sappers. A leaden 
cylinder, to hold a charge of 315 lbs. of gunpowder, was made 
by some artificers of the corps at ('hatliam ; but it failed on 
application, and tin oil bottles, containing small charges prepared 
by the sappers, were found to answer the purpose. These were 
taken to the wreck every morning by sergeaut-niiijor Jones and 
another non-conmiissicmed officer, and being pro})erly fixed by 
the divers and fired by the sergeant-major, the remaining frag- 

'* ' I'liitod Service Jouri'a',' iii. 1838, p. 45. 
" Ibid., iii. p. 40,41. 




ments of the wreck were so broken and dis])ersed, as to render 
the anchorasre perfectly safe for the i*hippnig. Fifteen of such 
charges were fired against the ' ^^ illiain,* and two more, to make 
' assuiance doubly sure,' were also exploded among the scat- 
tered timbers of the 'Glcnniorgan.' Sergeant-major Jones was 
the executive on this service under the direction of Colonel 

lender the authority of the Act of 1st Vict. cap. 20, thtj 
Ordnance received in charge the royal military canal at 
llythe. With a view to a more economical expenditure in its 
control and repair, the company of the royal staff corps in charge 
of it, was disbanded in July,'^ and a detachment of two sergeants 
and forty-two rank and file of the royal sappers and miners suc- 
ceeded to the duty. Of this detachment, one sergeant and 
twenty rank and file had been detached to the canal early in 
April, and the remainder, to the above total, was completed by 
an incorjioration of several men from the staff corps company, and 
six non-conmiissioncd officers and gunners acquainted with the 
care and management of horses from the royal artillery. The 
principal duties of the detachment consisted in taking charge of 
the locks and sluices, collecting tolls, repairing the drains, 
fences, &c., and in the execution of various laborious services 
in mud and water. A careful review of this arrtingement, and 
of the receipts and expenses of the canal, however, induced Sir 
Ilussey Vivian, the Master-General, to supersede the employ- 
ment of sappers by pensioners from the ordnance corps at very 
reduced wages ; and accordingly in December, 1840, the de- 
tachment was reduced to thirty-two of all ranks ; in May, 1841, 
to seven ; and in the following month, to one sergeant, who 
continued on duty at Ilythe till October, 1842. 

'* ' United Service Journal,' iii. 1838, p. 271-274 

" The disbandment of this company was the last in the annihilation of the 
corps. In that mouth it disappeared from the muster-rclls of the army. 





Expedition to Western Australia under Captain Grey — Excursion with Auger 
to the north of Perth — Search for Mr. Ellis — Exploration of shores from 
Freemantle — Bernier and Dorre Islands ; want of water ; trials of the party 
— Water allowance reduced —A lagoon discovered — -Privations and hardships 
of the party — Return to Bernier Island for stores — Its altered appearance — 
Destruction of the depfit of provisions — Consternation of Coles — Auger's 
example under the circumstances — Expedition makes for Swan River — 
Perilous landing at Gantheaume Bay — Overland journey to Perth ; straits of 
the adventurers — ^Auger searching for a missing man — Coles observes the 
natives; arrangements to meet them— Water found by Auger — A spring 
discovered by Coles at Water Peak — Disaffection about long marches ; 
forced journeys determined upon ; the two sappers and a few others accom- 
pany the Captain— Desperate hardships and fatigues; the last revolting 
resource of thirst — Extraordinary exertions of the travellers ; their sufferings 
from thirst; water found — Appalling bivouac — Coles's agony and fortitude — 
Struggles of the adventurers; they at iast reach Perth — Auger joins two 
expeditions in search of the slow walkers — Disposal of Coles and Auger. 

Captain Gkey of the 83rd regiment, undertook a second ex- 
pedition ; this time to ^^'^estern Australia. As soon as the 
sappers had recovered from the hardships and privations to 
which they had heen subjected in New Holland, they volun- 
teered again to accompany him. Private R. Mustard, too 
much shaken by the injury he had sustained on the former 
expedition, was unfit to proceed, and was left with the company 
of the corps at the Mauritius. On the 21st of August, 1838, the 
party embarked at Port Louis; and, on the 18th of September, 
arrived at Perth, A\ estern Australia. 

Delays prevented the Captain immediately pursuing his ob- 
ject, but to turn the interval to profit, he made a short excursion 
to the north of Perth with Mr. Frederick Smith and Corporal 
Auger. The exploration continued from the 30th November to 




the 8th of December, and was marked by incidents of a pacific 
character. None of the difficulties which clogged their previous 
exertions were experienced on this trip, and, coupled with the 
variety and beauty of the scenery, but little enthusiasm was 
needed to make the travellers feel an interest in the service.' 

The year opened with ('aptain Grey and four adventurers, 
including his two sappers, travelling into the interior in search 
of Mr. George Ellis and his two companions, who, having left 
the Williams' River for the Leschenault on the coast, had been 
out for several days beyond the period it was expected they 
would reach their destination, and fears were entertained for 
their safety. Captain Grey and his men steadily pursued their 
object, till the missing travellers, alive and in tolerable health, 
turned up to their exertions at Augusta. After twenty-two 
days' bush-ranging, the Caj)tain and his party re-entered Perth 
on the 31st of January. This episodical service was one of 
fatigue, particularly in crossing the Darling range and in 
pushing their route through forests and over wild and rugged 
ground. In some districts, the want of water was severely felt 
by them, and for eleven hours in one day, they journeyed on- 
wards under a sultry sun, suffering from excessive thirst.^ 

On the 17th of February, the exjjedition of twelve persons 
sailed from Fremantle to examine the shores of Shark's Bay 
and the country behind it, taking with them three whale-boats 
for future use. On the 25th, they landed at Bernier Island, 
discovering, when too late, that the keg of tobacco which was to 
have constituted their chief consolation in hardship, was left on 
board. After landing the provisions, the greater part of them were 
buried for security, but the want of water drove the expedition 
to Dorre Island on the 2bth of February, where their perse- 
vering search was equally unavailing, for the little that was 
obtained was extracted by suction from small holes in the rock. 
Already the party had had one of its boats knocked to pieces, 
and its stores lost, whilst the other two boats in a hurricane 
were much injured. For three days the sai)pcro were engaged 

' ' Grey's TiavelB,' i. p. 292-309. 
« Ibid., i. p. 310-328. 




in their repair, and on the Srd of March, the travellers, oj)- 
pressed with thirst, wearied by fatigue, and exposed to the full 
blaze of a ])owerful sun, sailed for the main/' 

Reaching a sand-bank, the boats were tracked and pulled 
onwards, through deep mud and weeds, into a dense mangrove 
creek, to land ; and, in accom])lishing this service, severe trials 
were encountered, the difficulties of which were increased by 
the exhaustion which labour and the want of water induced. 
In fifteen days, the allowance had been reduced from two and 
a half pints to half a i)int a day.^ 

Pursuing their journey, a lagoon of fresh water was soon 
found, and all bent the knee to take their fill of the luxury. 
A black line round the countenance showed how deej)ly each 
had regaled himself. Next day, the two sai)j)ers and some 
of the party visited the lagoon again, and in the evening re- 
turned loaded to the boats.^ 

Several days had been spent in exploration and adventure, 
during which the river Gascoyne had been discovered, and a few 
objects of geographical interest named. On one occasion, a storm 
having overtaken the wayfarers, their boats, which were swamped, 
were dragged amid much danger to shore ; and their flour, 
saturated with salt water, was now quite spoilt. Nevertheless, 
unwholesome as it was, they were forced to use it, as they had 
nothing else to eat. Illness now began to ap])ear among the 
party, and as there was neither food nor medicine to give them, 
their situation was deplorable. ^^ hile in this helpless state, 
they were attacked by a body of about thirty natives near Kolaina 
plains ; but fortunately, they succeeded in pushing off their 
boats without any serious accident occurring." Auger at the 
time was in the head of the boat, soldering up the breaches in 
an old kettle, valuable in its way, for the expedition had none 
other for its cooking purposes, when a s])ear, thrown by a 
savage, whizzed past the industrious tinker, and struck the 
seaman Ruston. 

After a period of intense desolation and gloom, in which the 


a ' (Jifj's Travels,' i. p. 32U-;144. 

'• Ibid., i. p. a.'ii-asa. 

* Ilml., i. p. .U.j-.'l.'il. 
" Ibid,, i. p. .'iSI-aTO. 

1839. 1 



expedition was ex])ose(l to the fury of anfji'y stornis, and the 
jiinchinu; calls of want, the l)()ats jjiit to sea; and snrroiuided by 
perils l)oth from surf and squall, the ."dvonturcrs returned to 
tiie Gciseoyne. Lfiunching or heaehiujr their boats on the rocky 
coast was a service of hazard and difficulty. On the 20th of 
March the provisions were nearly expended, and to replenish 
their stores, the boats made for Bernier Island. A jjale of wind 
(taught them on the passjige, and they only made good the 
landing by almost su[)erhuman exertion. Here a store of pro- 
visions had been buried, when the expedition first made the 
island, but from its very altered appearance, caused by the 
ravages of recent hurricanes, (^^iptain Grey doubted whether 
the depot could be found. Fearing some disaster had befallen 
the stores, he considered it unadvisable that tlie " discovery 
should be made in the presence of too mjvny persons, as future 
discipline would depend on the first impression that was given." 
lie therefore selected Mr. Smith and corporal Coles, in whose 
courage, disinterestedness, and self-possession, he j)laced great 
confidence, to accompany him to the dejjot. The corj)oral took 
a spade with him.' 

Before they had gone far, they observed staves of flour casks 
scattered about amongst the rocks and high up on the sjuid 
hills. Coles, taking a rapid glance of the ground, " persisted, 
they were so far iidand, that they could only have come from 
the flour casks which the exj)edition had emptied before start- 
ing." Moving on in their anxious survey, they "next came to 
a cask of salt provisions washed high and dry at least twenty 
feet above the usual high-water mark ; the sea had evidently 
not been near the spot for a long period, as it was half covered 
with drift sand, which must have taken some time to accumulate. 
This Coles again easily accounted for ; it was merely the cask 
which had been lost from the wreck of the ' Paul Pry.' " The 
Captain thought otherwise, but made no remark. At length they 
reached the depot. " So changed was it, that both Mr. Smith 
and (Jolcs ])ersisted it was not the place : but on going to the 
shore, there were some very remarkable rocks, on the top of 
' ' Urey's TravcU,' i. p. yT'.t 391. 




which lay a flour cask more than half cmj)ty, with the head 
knocked out, hut not otherwise injured. Tiiis was also washed 
up at least twenty feet of perpendicular elevation beyond high 
water mark. Tiie dreadful certainty now flashed on the minds 
of Mr. Smith and corporal ( \)les ;" but jjoor ( 'oles, usually so im- 
l)erturbable in character, and so ready to fi'id reasons for the 
alarming appearances which had met his gaze at every step, did 
not bear the surprise as well as had been exj)ccte.l. lie dashed 
the spade upon the ground with almost ferocious violence, and 
looking up to (Captain Grey, said, " All lost, sir ! We are all 
lost." A few rallying words from the (Captain, however, made 
liim " perfectly cool and collected, and he ])romiscd to make 
liglit of the misfortune to the rest, and to observe the strictest 
discipline." Coles with eager economy now collected every 
})article of the precious floiir, discoloured as it was, that was 
left in the barrel and strewn on the rocks, and with another 
bag of spoiled flour found among the sea-weeds, the adventurers 
returned to the party Their tale of distress was soon told, and 
all heard it with dismay. "Mr. Walker and corporal Auger 
set an excellent example to the others. Two seamen named 
^^'oods, indisposed to bear, in common with tlie adventurers, the 
sacrifices that impended, seized the first op])ortunity of endea- 
vouring to appropriate to themselves the miserable remnant of 
damper belonging to the party ; b\it their unmanly intention 
being observed, a sentry was placed in charge of the scanty 
store of provisions, which only amounted to about nine lbs. of 
salt meat, and about sixty lbs. of tolerably good flour." 

The expedition quitted Bernicr Island (m the 22nd of March, 
to make for Swan River. In taking this ourse, it was hoped, 
that if any accident occurred Perth could be reached by walk- 
ing. Oossing the bay, the party sjiiled to the southward, 
examining the coast, ;ind after a brief stay on Perron's Penin- 
sula and Dirk Ilartog's Island, the boats on the 31st, reached 
Gantheaume Bay. Eleven days were spent in achieving this 
run : the coasting was very perilous, and the gales that caught 
tlie leaky boats as they swept along, were terrific. Both were 
" ' Grey's Travels,' i. p. 391-39(1. 





more than once in immiiieut danger, but tlie unsparing energy 
and determination of the men carried them safely to the shore. 
At Gantheaumc Bay, iiowevcr, tlie landing was not eft'oeted 
without casualty. The surf was high and raging, and the wind 
drove the boats along at a fearful rate. Onwards they jilunged, 
now dancing on a swell, now pitching in a trough, now quite 
unmanageable, when one was tossed over by a furious wave and 
dashed in fragments amongst the rocks and breakers. In an 
instant, its crew and the two sappers were struggling through 
the foaming surf, but after tumbling amongst oars and water- 
kegs, and the spars and splinters of the wreck, all clambered to 
the summit of the cliff, torn, jaded, and exhausted.' 

A crisis had now arrived which it was necessary to meet 
with firmness. Assembling the expedition, the captain ex- 
plained matters as they appeared, and of which the travellers 
were only too cognizant. Auger, who all along had repaired 
the boats, was asked by the chief, if they could be put in any 
kind of condition for service. Knowing their unfitness for 
anything, and the impossibility of making them even tempo- 
rarily seaworthy, he frankly answered in the negative. Fortified 
by the professional o])inion of a truthful and skilful artificer, 
Captain Grey took his determination at once and aiTangements 
were made accordingly. On the 2nd April, the party started 
from Gantheaume Bay, resolved to reach Perth by marching. 
The provisions had been shared out — 20 lbs. of flour and 1 lb. 
of salt meat ])er man. The flour was of a brown colour with 
a fermented taste, like bad beer, and nothing but dire necessity 
could induce any one to eat it. The distance to be travelled 
was about 300 miles in a direct line, without taking hills, val- 
leys, and deviations into account. Corporals (Joles and Auger, 
besides their provisions, &c., carried a pocket chronometer and 
a large sextant, turn about. (Joles also bore the Captain's rifle, 
and Auger a choice book valued by the chief, and a housewife 
containing some needles and thread and a few patches. In all 
the dreadful hardships that beset them, even when extreme 
feebleness might have excused them the toil of bearing the 

" ' Gr /'s Travels,' i. p. 396-412. 




articles, they iilmiuloiUMl iiotliiiiif until ordered to do so. " In- 
deed," suys ('ii])tiiin Grey, " I do not lielieve that tliere is a 
8tronu;er instance of" iidelity and ijerseveranee than was eviiieed 
by some of the l)arty, in retainiiifr under every difheulty, pos- 
session of that which they had j)rouii.-t'd to j)reserve for nie." '" 
Impeded by natural obstacles, their j)ro<^ress was tediously 
slow. The llutt River was reached on the 5th. A few days 
after they touched the IJowes River, and then jouriieyiiifj 
throuj^h the province of Victoria, rested by the rivers Ruller 
and C'liapinan." 

On the banks of the latter a man was found missing ; and 
Dr. Walker and corporal Auger were sent in search of him. 
They ascended the cliff's and tracked him to the sea ; but as a 
large party of natives were near them, they gave up the jjui-suit, 
and, unobserved, retreated. The missing man turned up next 

While this party was out, corporal Coles, who was posted as 
sentry on a high terrace difficult of access, saw natives on the 
opposite cllfl's brandishing their si)ears in the manner they do 
before a light. ( 'ajjtain Grey clambered up the height, but as 
he could not make them out, he thought Coles had made a 
mistiike. " When I told him this," writes the Captiiin, " he 
merely said. Look there, the.i, sir," and pointed to the top of 
Mount Fairfax. There, iiideed, they were, going through a 
series of enigmatical cereivouies. The disposition which the 
Captain made of his men, being observed by the natives, at 
first excited them to furious gestures, but by d(>grees, they 
calmed down and suddenly withdrew. "The British soldiers 
and sailors with nie," proceeds the chief, " were surprisingly 
calm." '3 

The Greenough River was reached on the Hth April. Here 
some of the men became sullen and would not ])roceed. In the 
mean time corporal Auger went alone to search for water, and 
soon finding it, the party was moved to the stream. Revived 
in spirits by the supply, all readily resumed the inarch, and 


'" ' Grey's Travels," ii. p. C. 
'« IbiU., ii. p. ;H-37. 

" Ibid., ii. p. 1-,'!1. 
'" IbiU., ii. p. 31-3a. 





before nijflitfall, liad tniv(!llo(l s-cvoii milos furtlior on their 
joiinioy.'^ Hut the wisli for sliort innrchcs iiiul hiw^ lialts 
wliidi prevailed from the tirst, and in which Dr. Waliicr coin-, 
cided, was now exiiihited in diseontont. The Captain, liowcver, 
wisely persisted in foUowinj^ his own phui. On the ilth April 
the want of water was nnich felt ; and late in the d.iy corporals 
Auyer and (Joles and three others went in search of some. 
They had made about seven miles, " when the keen eye of 
Coles," says the (.'aptuin, " discovered a beautiful spring,' under 
a hill, which was then named the Water Peak." Why this 
designation ? Indebted to the corjjoral for finding tlie si)rinj,', 
it would not surely have been irrelevant to associate the humble 
name of the faithful discoverer with this interesting feature of 
the hard journey. In returning to the party, they wandered 
over a rough country full of crevices, sustaining some serious 
falls, and, being benighted, did not reach their conij)anions till 
the next morning.'* 

So great had the disaffection become about short marches, 
that the Cajttain resolved to adopt a course to settle the ques- 
tion. About seventy miles only had been marched, and six or 
seven pounds of flour were all that was left to each person. All 
were hourly losing strength and energy, and suffering from 
stiffened limbs. To delay under such circumstances was sure 
to brinsr with it wants and trials of the most distressing nature. 
The Captain, therefore, determined to proceed by forced jour- 
neys. " It w;is evident," he writes, " that those men who, 
during our late toils, had shown themselves the most ca])able of 
enduring hardships, privations, and the fatigue of long and 
rapid marches, were those best suited for the service destined 
for them." Among the five selected to accomj)any him were 
coqjorala Auger and Coles, whose force of character and disci- 
plinary habits made them tit exanijjles for imitation in so forlorn 
an extremity. Dr. \\ alker's party consisted of five men, and 
himself as the chief. Mr. Frederick Smith was with the slow 
walkers. The separation took place on the lOtli April.'" 

'* 'Grey's Travels,' ii. p. 37. " Ibid., ii. p. 40-44. 

'» Ibiil., ii. p. 4.')-,^)i. 




The AiTowsmith River was gained by Captain Grey and his 
steady men on the 1 1 th, and a further march of forty-six miles 
brought, tliem on the 13[h to Gairdner's Range. On the 14th, 
they reached the Hill River, and after a long journey, halted at 
a pool, where they each cooked two table-spoonsful of flour in 
about a pint of thick water into a mess they termed soup. Tliis, 
with a few nuts from the zamia tree, formed their day's repast. 
On this scanty fare they trudged along at a smart pace, over an 
arid and sterile tract of country, groaning from pain and fatigue. 
The sun, too, was intensely hot, antl all grew fciint for want of 
water. Gaining the course of a parched-up stream, it was 
called the " Smith " River. Many holes like wells were m its 
bottom, inviting search and promising success ; but all were 
cruelly dry, and the very stones over which the water once had 
gushed, were 1 'anchcd or blackened with long exposure to a 
burning sun. Now their weary days only jjassed to be suc- 
ceeded by sleepless and toilsome nights. Almost j)erishing with 
thirst, they wandered like wild men even in the dark hours of 
night, from swamp to swamp, digging holes in a vain search. 
For two days and two nights they had not tasted a single drop 
of water or food of any kind ; "nd on the 17th, as they moved 
slowly on with weak and husky voices, they moistened their 
mouths by sucking a few drops of dew from the shrubs and 
reeds. So worn out were they all, that now they could only 
walk a few hundred yards iit a time ; but about two o'clock in 
the afternoon they were so completely exhausted, it was impos- 
sible to move them. The sun was then very oppn-isive, and 
the groans of the men were painful in the •extreme. Some bad 
fruitlessly essayed to obUiin relief to their parched throats by 
chewing vhe laces and fragments of the tops of their ankle 
boots ; but now the " last sad and revolting resource of thirst 
was upon them -they were driven to drink their own — !" ''' 

Reduced to the last degree of weakness and want, Captain 

Grey, in this desperate crisis, resolved to proceed southward, 

and never to halt until he droppeil or reached water ; and if 

any of the party fell behind, not to wqit for them, but to go on 

" 'Grey's Trayels,' ii. p. .54-72. 






until he slaked his own thirst, and then to return with assistance 
to them. Upon all he called to exert their utmost energies 
atid make a last struggle for their lives. Every superfluous 
article was now thrown away, and tiic very valuable sextant, 
carried in turns by corporals Coles and Auger, was also aban- 
doned. In sad procession the sufl'erers re< led on with wild and 
haggard looks; ai.'l though reason with some had hcgmi to 
iiold but a very slight influence, discipline was rigidly main- 
tained, and not a complaint escaped them. At length, after 
suffering intense thirst for three days and two nights, perform- 
ing severe marches under a scorching sun, the delighted travel- 
lers, finding a small hole of moist mud, each as he came up 
cast his wearied and aching limbs beside the hole, and, thanking 
God, greedily swallowed the liquid.'** 

Almost in a state of stupefaction the men lay down by the 
pool, watching wiih straining eye-balls until they again saw a 
little mud in it, which they eagerly licked up. Pigeons and 
cockatoos in numbers came to drink of the spring, but the 
gaunt wayfarers forestalling them had consumed the supply. 
Above, hovered birds in tempting flocks while the travellers by 
the " lone pool " were starving. Not an arm was strong 
enough to bring one down. The guu was partially raised, but 
the tremor of the effort rendered the attempt altogether hope- 
less. Each now turned to his own little store, and cooking a 
spoonful of flour, mixed with the black '>nuid, grat(!fully ate it. 
All sense of smell and taste had gone, and a repast of mud was 
as palatable as a custard. Next day, April the 18th, quitting 
the memorable pool, they traversed a very hilly and densely- 
wooded country, and finding excellent water, made, notwith- 
stjuiding their extreme feebleness, an incredibly long march. 
At night they lay 'own exposed to heavy rain, and, as a piece 
of torn and shreded blanket between two was their only 
covering, their situation was one of extreme wretchedness and 
suffering." During these wanderings. Auger found intcvals 
in which his spirits were sufficiently buoyant to encourage him 
to un))ack his needles and thread, and to do his best — being 

'" ' Grey's Travels,' ii. p. 77-81. '" Ibid., ii. p. 81-87. 

VOL. I. /• 




only an improvised tailor — to mend the gaping rents and fretted 
fractures in the Captain's tattered costume.^ 

On the 19th, the exhausted travellers were in motion again, 
but completely crippled from the cold of the night. " Corporal 
Coles," writes the Captain, " my faithful and tried companion 
in all my wanderings, could scarcely crawl along. The flesh 
was completely torn away fion one of his heels ; and the irri- 
tation caused by this had produced a large swelling in the 
groin. Nothing but his own strong fortitude, aided by the 
encouragement given him by myself and his comrades, could 
have made him move under his great agony."^' Twenty one 
miles the paHy marched that day without food, and only gave 
up when the darkness closed in upon them. A night of appal- 
ling misery succeeded, for the teeming rain drenched them 
as they lay ; and the following morning, wasted and weak, with 
rigid limbs and shivering bodies, tli'^y could only, by extra- 
ordinary efforts, push themselves along. Life was scarcely worth 
the effort it cost to move, (^oles was in a dreadful state, 
staggering on like a drunken man reduced to the last extremity 
of human endurance. It required fortunately but a few more 
desperate struggles to succeed ; all therefore buoyed up their 
spirits, for, in their deep despair, a flickering hope still remained ; 
and on the 21st April the five exemplary adventurers under 
their captain, entered Perth miserable objects of emaciation and 
prostration.^'' Here ended thc'r toils, discouragements, and 
privations; and here they were tended with the best ledical 
skill that the settlement could command.'^^ 

Worn as he was, Auger started again the next day with a 
party under Lieutenant Mortimer to search for the lagging 
travellers left with Dr. Walker, and was out a fortnight Driven 

'" Lady Thomas, the mother of tlie cliief, hca"-'! of these thoughtful atten- 
tions exercised under such trying circumstances, and on the traveller being 
introduced to her, she acknowledged his kindness with no little emotion, and 
marked her grateful appreciation of it by a suitable gift. 

«i ' Grey's Tra\ els,' ii. p. 87. 

e Ibid., ii. p. 88-97. 

" Both received 1». a-day each working pay, and for their good and enter- 
prising conduct a gratuity of 10/. from the Secretary of State for the ColonieG. 




by want of provisions the mission returned to Perth on the 
6th May, bringing with it one of tlie missing men. In the 
following morning the corporal wad again afoot with a second 
party under Mr. Roc, the surveyor-general of the province. 
Big-boned, broad and unbending, though ailing, attenuated 
and of melancholy aspect, he marched for eleven more days, 
re-entering the settlement on the 21st May with Mr. Spoffortli, 
the companion traveller of Mr. Roc. The search was suc- 
cessful ; four of the ad/enturers were taken into Perth, and the 
starved remains of t!ie last were buried in a sand-hill. After 
sleeping upwards of 400 nights in the open air and suffering 
hardships of extreme severity, it seems strange that Auger, 
footsore and tired, should not have been allowed a horse, as 
some of the party were, u])on which to travel in these concluding 
services ; and it is even more surprising that Captain Grey, in 
furnishing the details of these secondary txj)edition ■, should 
have suppressed all allusion to the presence of the corporal, who 
deserved, for his spirit and endurance, most honourable mention. 
Months passed away before the two corporals regained their 
health, when, in February, 1840, they proceeded to South 
A'lstralia. Corporal Coles joined the detachment of the corps 
' i i\ t Adelaide; and corporal Av.'ger landed at ^Voolwich in 
.*^':m '•inb^r, and was soon afterwards discharged by purchase.^' 
'•io- n nained in the corps till June, 1843, when he was 
;^t)n.- oijO on Is. a-day, in consequence of the loss of the fnigors 
of his riyliC hand and the forefinger of his left, occasioned by 

" Broken down by the service Auger felt it necessary to seek repose in civil 
life. When sufficiently restored he was engaged to hold a responsihle situa- 
tion in the I'inili wheel factory, by Octavius Smith, Kbij., of Tliames liank, 
the father of poor Mr. Frederick Smith, who was one of the expedition. This 
young gentleman offered a noble example of courage, pati.'ucc, and resignation, 
but his delicate and shattered constitution not giving him strength to keep up 
in the forced marches of his chief, he was left, in tne painful separation on the 
10th April, with the slow marchers under Dr. Walker, and perished in Uie 
bush from want and exhaustion, at the tender age of nineteen. 

Captain, now Sir George Grey, on visiting Kngland in 18r)4, most kindly 
•luorht fov Auger. Naturally the meeting awakened reminiscences of the llol'iiind struggles; and the ehief, at parting, presented his corporal with 
an elegant silver teapot and stand, hearing this simple but expressive inscrip- 
ti„n : — " i?ir George Grey to his old follower, Richard Auger, .\ugust, 1854." 




the accidental explosion of a carronade, which he was firing in 
honour of the birth of the Duke of Cornwall. Captain Grey 
was then Governor of South Australia, and he at once nomi- 
nated f. '"nit'^ful companion and servant to a lucrative govern- 
ment ap mt in the colony, presenting him also, at great 
cost, with , .;t of fingers fitted to his hand, which were so 
beautiful in their mechanism and accurate in their working, that 
he could pick up a button or a sixpence with pleasing facility. 





re so 



Services of the detachment in Spain— Last party of the artillery on the survey 
— Survey of South Australia — Inspection at I^imerick by Sir William Mac- 
bean — Tiiangulatiou of north of Scotland — Also of the Clyde — Pontoons by 
sergeant Hopkins — Augmentation of the corps — Also of the survey compa- 
nies — Supernumerary rank annulled — Tithe surveys ; quality of work ex- 
ecuted on them by discharged sappers; efficient surveys of sergeant Douli 
— Increase of survey pay — Staff appointments on the survey — Responsibility 
of quartermaster-sergeant M'Kay — Colonel Colby's classes — Based upon 
particular attainments — Disputed territory in the State of Maine — Movements 
and services of the party employed in its survey ; intrepidity of corporal 
M'Queen— Experiments with the diving-bell — Also with the voltaic battery 
— Improvement in the priming-wires by Captain Sandham ; seigcant-major 
Jones's waterproof composition and imitation fuses — Demolition and removal 
of the wreck of the ' Uoyal George ' — Organization of detachment employed 
in the operation — Emulation of parties — Success of the divers ; labours of 
the sappers — Diving bell abandoned — Accident tn private Brabaut — Fear- 
lessness of Corporal Harris in unloading the gunpowder from the cylinders 
— Hazardous duty in soldering the loading-hole of the cylinder — First sapper 
helmet divers — Conduct and exertions of the detachment. 

The detachment in Spain was not called upon during the year 
to take part in any active operation. Its services were, there- 
fore, confined to the works. At Passages the men performed 
several duties connected with the squadron ; and in addition to 
fitting up ller Majesty's ship ' Nightingale ' for stores, made 
various essential alterations and fitments in Lord John Hay's 
vessel, the ' North Star.' Sections of the detachment were for 
months at Aquirre completing the construction of a redoubt 
and magazine, and repairing the fortified house there, and 
building a barrack and magazine at Cachola Fort on the 
Heniani road. Others were also occupied for a period in 
fitting up the liospital at San Sebastian, repairing the barracks 





of the royal artillery and royal marines, and attending to the 
security of the different forts in front of the fortress. 

A detJichment of the cartillery had, ever since the commence- 
ment of the national survey, heen employed on that duty, whose 
numbers, by degrees, were reduced to five non-commissioned 
officers and privates. This year saw the last of that regiment 
on the survey, for the men alluded to were transferred to the 
corps on the 1st April. 

On the 20th September, one sergeant, two corporals, and 
twelve privates landed at Port Adelaide, South Australia, from 
the ' Recovery ' emigrant ship. The royal authority for the 
organization of this party to carry out the surveys of the colony, 
under the direction of Captain E. C. Frome, royal engineers, 
was dated 2nd July, 1839. Lord Nonnanby, the Secretary of 
State for the Colonies, at the instance of the South Australian 
Commissioners, recommended the measure. By this addition, 
the corps wnf^ increased from 1,048 to 1,003 of all ranks. The 
party was composed of men chiefly from the survey, married, 
with families, and well adapted for the service of the settle- 
ment. Soon the men were dispersed over a wide extent of the 
province, surveying a wild unoccupied territory, and also in 
setting off and surveying blocks of land for the emigrants. 
The duty was not without its trials ; and for months the sur- 
veyors obtained no better shelter than the bush, the shade of 
some bold cliff, or the cover of a frail canvas tent. In 1844, 
when it became indispensable to effect some changes in the 
surveying department and in the mode of its action, in con- 
sequence of the increased population of the colony and its great 
inland distribution, his Excellency Captain G. Grey expressed 
before the Legislative Council his sense of the accuracy and 
ability with which the detachment had conducted the surveys, 
and added, that no greater efficiency could be desired in 
effecting the trigonometrical survey than that displayed in their 
labours.' Some of the party were constantly at Port Adelaide 
engaged in the contingent duties of the station, such as working 
at their trades, drawing, &c., and in superintendence. At first 
' ' South Australian Register,' August 24, 1844. 




all .expenses were borne by tlie Commissioners, but eventually 
they were defrayed from the colonial revenue. The working 
pay of the party continues to range between Is. and 5s. a-day 
each, e.'vclusive of regimental allowances and rations. The 
sergeant in charge receives the highest rate, and tlie orivates 
seldom less than 28. a-day each. 

On the 23rd May, the sixteenth company under the com- 
mand of Captain Stotherd, ll.E., was inspected at Limerick by 
Major-General Sir William Macbean, and commended by the 
General for their soldier-like conduct and appearance.^ 

One corporal and twenty privates were detached in May 
under Lieutenant Robinson, R.E., to the north of Scotland, and 
continued on the trigonometrical survey of that portion of the 
country until late in December, when they rejoined their 

Captain A. Henderson, having with him one corporal and six 
privates, was employed in the secondary triangulation of the 
Clyde from May to the 10th October. 

At the summer examination of the gentleman cadets at 
Sandhurst, there was "exhibited a pontoon raft of very inge- 
nious construction, made by the sappers employed at the 
college under the direction of sergeant John llopkina" The 
raft was supported on two wicker boats formed after the fashion 
of the old Welsh coracle, covered with waterproof canvas, 
" each being ten feet long by three feet wide, and two feet three 
inches deep. Tlie buoyancy and firmness of the raft were such 
as to show, that by giving a small additional length to the 
coracles, it might be rendered capable of bearing field artillery, 
and it was so light as to be swiftly impelled by a pair of oars. 
The experiment was extremely satisfactory, and proved that a 
very valuable resource in the field might be found in such con- 
structions for passing rivers."^ On several occasions during the 
term the detachment were out day and night extinguishing 
fires — the work of incendiaries — in the plantations near the 
college, and their effectual exertions prevented the destruction 

« ' Limerick CUrouicIe,' 25th May, 1839. 
^ ' United Service .loiirnal,' ii. 1839, p. 420. 




of much of the crown property. Sergeant Hopkins was highly 
praised for his activity and intelligence in the practical work of 
instruction, and corporal Robert Ilearnden for his skill in the 
construction of revetments. 

By the authority of a royal warrant dated 3rd July, 1838, 
a company of eighty-nine strong, numbered the tenth, was 
added to the corj)s on the 1st July, 1839, which increased the 
establishment from 1,063 to 1,152 of all ranks. The formation 
of this company was occasioned by the removal in the previous 
year of a company from nome duty to the Canadas. 

In 1838 the Government threw the tithe surveys in England 
into the hands of contractors, whereby the parishes were bur- 
dened with an expense of dd. an acre, while the survey executed 
by the Ordnance cost but little more than half the sum. The 
higher price thus paid to the contractors, enabled them to 
attract to their employment civil assistants trained by the Ord- 
nance, to do their work. Many resignations of superior sur- 
veyors and draughtsmen were therefore the result, and so great 
a loss from a single class, necessarily deferred the completion 
of a large portion of surveyed work. To provide against injury 
from any similar contingency, a warrant dated 2nd July, 1839, 
authorized an augmentation of two sergeants, two coqiorals, 
two second corporals, and ten privates to each survey company, 
which, for the three companies devoted to that service, gave an 
increase of forty-eight men, making the total sapper establish- 
ment on the survey amount to — 




2nd Corpln. 











By this augmentation, the corps was raised from a total of 
1,152 to 1,200. 

At this period, the survey companies were generally employed 
on confidential duties and dispersed over a vast extent of 
country ; while most of the non-commissioned officers and many 
of the privates were in charge of parties, performing duties 
which required the exercise of great judgment and discretion. 
The additional permanent rank was granted to invest the non- 
commissioned officers with more weight and authority among 




their parties, and to supersede recourse to the anomalous expe- 
dient of supernumerary promotion. 

The same reason which diminished the civil strength of the 
national survey, induced a disposition among the best soldiers 
of the corps on tiiat duty to purchase their discharge. Several 
quitted during the tithe survey mania,* and the vacancies in 
the three companies by this and other means, showed that en- 
couragement was wanted to influence them to continue in the 
service. To afford this. Colonel Colby obtained the power on 
the 16th August, 1839, to award working pay to the royal 
sappers and miners under his command, to the maximum of 3«. 
a-day, according to individual merit and exertion, in addition 
to their regimental pay and allowances. 

This, however, was not regarded by Colonel Colby as suffi- 
cient to meet the emergency. It was hopeless for him to 
compete in peci.niary payments with the expensive parochial 
surveys of Englmd, and he therefore asked for two military 
rewards in ad;'ition to the augmented working j)ay. These 
were the permanent rank and pay of one sergeant-major and 
one quartermaster-sergeant. But the Master-General did not 
view the matter in the same light as the Colonel, and only con- 
sented to the appointment of an acting sergeant-major with the 
pay of the rank. This Colonel Colby did not consider an 
adequate distinction, and he never availed himself of it.- 

■* Several of those who quitted obtained ready employment on these surveys, 
and their maps in all cases were of the first class. Mr. Chadwick, in his 
report to the Poor-Law Commissioners, compared the " nou-efficicncy of per- 
sons appointed to make surveys under the Tithe Commutation and Parochial 
Assessment Acts, with those executed by privates and non-commissioned officers 
of the sappers and miners. Out of 1,700 first-class maps, not more than one- 
half displayed qualifications for the execution of public surveys without 
superict.jndcr.ce. Amongst the most satisfactory surveys were those executed 
by a retired ."orgeont of the corps " — Alexander Doull, — ' British Almanac and 
Companion,' 1843, p. 38. 

' In December, 1834, James M'Kay was appointed acting quartermaster- 
sergeant with the pay of the rank. Entrusted with the care and issue of the 
engravings of the survey, more than 180,000 passed tlirough his hands, 
amounting in value to 35,500/., the accounts for which, rendered half-yearly 
to the Irish Government, were never found to contain a single error. So ex. 
tensive a responsibility rarely falls to a non-commissioned officer. Upwards 
of. forty years he served in the corps, and, for his merits, received a gratuity and 




In July, 1839, before the increased working pny was granted, 
the followinfT was tlie distribution of the companies on the 
survey according to classes. 

Receiving less than 

Colonel Colby's 




S. rl. 

. 1 

. 1 

. 1 1 

. 1 2 

. 1 .1 

. 1 4 

. 1 ."i 

. 1 G 

M ^ 

. I 8 

ll 9 

l\ 10 




















The qualifications demanded of surveyors to render them 

deserving of advancement were as follows : — 

CTiss 1st. — To be capable of surveying for content — flat country. 

C/<iss '2i«/.— Surveying for content— hilly country, including the use of 

the theodolite, taking the horizontal and vertical angles, as well as 

reducing the lines to the horizontal planes of the links on the arch. 
Clifs ',inl. — Competent to register angles and distances, and to make a 

content plot. 
Class 4(A. — Able to compute areas, and horizontal and vertical distances 

and triangles. 
Class Mh. — Able to lay out town lands or parishes for content with skill, 

so as to prevent confusion or unnecessary labour in the subsequent 


medal. He was discharged in July, 1844, with a pension of 'is. id. a-day, and 
afterwards obtained a quiet unpretending situation at Birmingham, where his 
business habits made him of essential service in the promotion of a scheme for 
a loan society on liberal principles. 

' The above detail docs not exhibit a true exposition of the acquirements 
and usefulness of the survey companies, as many of those not advanced to the 
classes, had been reduced from the higher to the lower rates for irregularity ; 
and others, on the higher rates, were not advanced as soon as their qualifica- 
tions merited, it being a principle with the Colonel, not to exhaust the limited 
poller he possessed of awarding working pay, because he wisely considered 
nothing was more discouraging to human exertions than the knowledge, that 
those whose duty it was to reward, had no further power to grant them encou- 




Class CM. — Fully aoquainted with every branch of content surveying, 

and capable of directing parties of content surveyors. 
rAiv.v A.— Competent to survey and plot roads, Sec. 
C/ H. — Competent to draw plans. 

In all the classes, evory man was expected to do his work 
accurately ; and if, in addition, he showed raj>' lity with cor- 
rectness and neatness, s])ccial encouragement was given to such 
sajjpers by the grant of a proportional allowance. 

Second-corporal Robert Ilearnden and two lance-corporals 
were atUiched on the 'Jth July to Colonel Mudgc, RE., and 
Mr. Featherstonhaugli, to assist in the topographical survey of 
the disputed territory in the state of Maine, with a view to the 
settlement of the boundary question. The sappers were dressed 
in plain clothes, suitable to the climate ; and after a brief stay 
at New York, and subsequently at Boston, entered Fredericton 
on the IDth August. Sixty-two canoes were hired for the 
service of the commission, and about 100 men, chiefly Indians, 
to man them. I^mce-ccrporal ^V'illiam ^McGregor was left at 
the observatory at the Cirand Falls, St. John's ; and on every 
day, at intervals of two hours, registered the indications of the 
five different barometers placed in his charge. C'orporal Ilearn- 
den and lance-corporal John McQueen were employed with 
the Connnissioners ; and, in tracing the sources of the rivers 
and finding the heights of land, aided in registering the residts 
of the instruments used to determine their altitudes. This 
cmplojTiient necessarily kept them much afloat ; they moved 
daily to reconnoitre ; and in doing so, the stores and equipage, 
for which they were responsible, were invariably sent onwards 
under their charge. At night they slept in tents by the shores 
of the streams where their day's labour ended, and in winter 
were much exposed to great inclemency of weather and some- 
times personal danger. Once corporal McQueen, under cir- 
cumstances of peculiar peril, saved from drowning a servant of 
one of the commissioners, and held him with his powerful ann, 
by the collar, at the side of the canoe for about an hour, until 
he reached land. The canoe at the time was crossing the first 
lake on the Allagash, about three miles broad, and was freighted 
with baggage. Had he taken the sufferer into the canoe it 

i !l 




would have foundered, us it wns then sunk in the water to the 
gunwale. Corporal McQueen also met with personal misfortune 
in the loss by tire of his necessaries. Late in November the 
party reached Fredericton, and arrived at \V^oolwich on the 
24th January, 1H40. Each received 1». a-day working pay, 
and as a reward for having performed their duties in a satis- 
factory manner, a gratuity of 10?. 

Previously to undertaking the destruction of the wreck of 
the ' Royal George,' at Spithead, Colonel Pasley made various 
experiments with the diving-bell. The common form was 
rectangular, and proved under certain circumstances very dan- 
gerous. The diving-bell in Chatham dockyard was fitted up 
by carpenters of the corps, and when completed, resembled in 
its horizontjil section, that of a boat twelve and a half feet long, 
and four and a half broad.' On the 14th May the altered bell 
was tried from the ' Anson,' 72, in the Medway, near Gilling- 
ham. Captain M. \Villiams, R.E., was the excf'tivo officer : 
he had with him a party of the corps and some riggers, &c., to 
work the bell. Sergeant-major Jones was the first man of the 
sappers to enter it, and on that day the experiments fully j)roved 
its efficacy for hazardous service. Colonel Pasley thereupon 
determined to use it at Spithead." 

In the experiments which from time to time were made with 
the voltaic battery, serjeant-major Jones was always appointed 
to assist. Colonel Pasley had a high ojiinion of his experience, 
and of the quickness with which he saw a difficulty and j)roposed 
a remedy. The operation of passing the priming wires through 
water into the bursting charges of powder, was brought to per- 
fection by Captain Sandham, of the royal engineers. Hitherto 
tape had been wrapped all round the priming wires, and paid 
over the outside with waterproof composition, leaving the inside 
of the tapes, and the wires embraced by them, quite clean, 
" which formed two circular open joints, and therefore was 
rather a curious sort of connexion." But the improved arrange- 
ment consisted in adopting the " expedient of smearing over or 
saturating with sergeant-major Jones' waterproof com})osition, 

" ' Uuitcd Service Journal,' i. 1840, p. 74, " Ibul., 1840, p. 74. 

1839.] UOYAI- SAlTKliS AND MINKItS. 34l» 

the wires themselves, as well as every other part of the other 
materials used in this junction, whether tape, thread, lienqt, 
twine, wooden plup^a, and cajts to prcviMit contact with the 
leaden pipe in which the priminpf nppuratus was inclosed, or 
canvas tops apj)lied over the woocUni cap which served to cement 
it to the outside of the cylinder containing,' the great charge." 
In the judicious use of that valuahle composition, very extra- 
ordinary proofs of its excellence afterwards came to light in the 
operations at Sjjithead." 

The 'Royal George,' a first-rate man-of-war of lOO gunx, 
was overset at Spithead June 28th, 1782,'" and for nearly sixty 
years, that leviathan wreck had heen lying in the roadstead, a 
danger to shipping. Several enterprising individuals had at- 
tempted or proposed to raise or remove it, hut with imavailing 
results. At length Colonel Pasley undertook the task, and in 
a few summers, by means of gunpowder, effected its entire 
demolition and removal. Many guns had heen ])reviously 
recovered, but the number still at the bottom was estimated in 
value at more than 5,000/. 

Under the auspices of the Admiralty, Colonel Pasley re- 
paired to Portsmouth fnmi Chatham with the necessary stores 
and a detachment of the corj)s, consisting of sergeant-major 
Jenkin Jones, one bugler, a clerk, and thirteen rank and file 
under the command of Qiptain M. AVilliams, of the corps, who 
was afterwards relieved by Lieutenant J. F. A. Symonds, royal 
engineers. The rank and file comprised a collar-maker and a 
cooper, with a proportion of carjienters, blacksmiths, and tinmen. 
After being removed from the 'Queen,' navy lighter on the 

" ' United Service Journal,' i. 1840, p. "(i. "The sergeant-major's compo- 
sition was simply piteh softened by bees'-wax and tallow. Ho had tried a 
great number of experiments for ascertaining the best sort of waterproof com- 
position for bags of gunpowder in 1632, when Hickford's fuses were first used 
by the corps at Chatham. He also at the same period discovered tlie means 
for imitating Hickford's fmcs in an efficient manner. Ilis imitntinn fnses, liow- 
ever, were not precisely the same, as Uicliford's fuses were evidently made by 
machinery."—' United Service Journal,' ii. 1839, p. 192-193. 

'" By this catastrophe. Admiral Kenipenfeldt and a crew of many hundreds 
of seamen, with nearly 100 women and 200 Jews, then on board, perished. — 
' Haydn's Dates.' 




20th August, to the ' Success,' frigate hulk, then anchored near 
the wreck, operations commenced on the 21st, and were '•in- 
tinued with diligence till the 4th November. They were then 
suspended till the return of the summer. During the service, 
the sappers, and the seamen, marines, &c., were divided into 
two squads, and attached to two lumps moored about 100 
fathoms apjirt, with the MTeck between them. From these 
lumps the work was usually cairicd on. Each lump had its own 
diver. Lieutenant Symonds directed the oj)erations of one, and 
sergeant-major Jones the otiier. " Thus a friendly emulation 
took place between the whole of the men employed," each party 
working for the success of its own diver, " and the divers them- 
selves being no less anxious to surpass each other." " 

Two of the great explosions failed, but two succeeded, besides 
a vast number of si'naller ones, which shook the wreck and 
o])ened its sides and ele \red its decks. Tiie labour consequent 
on the success of the divers was immense, and the recovery of 
articles and guns gave j)romise of realizing more than sufficient 
to cover the outlay in carrying on the work. The more par- 
ticular duties of the saj)pers did not prevent them taking a full 
share of the labour at the capstan and tlie ropes. AVhen not 
em])loyed in the general duties of tlie operation, they wore con- 
fined to the performance of special ones ; such as preparing the 
various explosions, managing the v(/ltaic battery and apparatus, 
and lopairing the latter when needed. "They also repaired 
the diving-dresses, and did all the coopers', blacksmiths', and 
carpenters' work necessary, including the fitting up and occa- 
sioutal repairs to launches used for receiving the materials." In 
all these duties they were foiuul ])articularly useful."* 

When Mr. Dewar, the only bell-diver, was discharged, it 
became necessary to train volunteers to succeed him. Two men 
of the detachment readily offered to try the service. These were 
corporal David Harris and private ^ViHiam Ileid. On the 
'27th August, witli Colonel Pasley and I-ieutenant Sjmonds, 
they entered the bell, and twice were lowered, the second time 
with the intention of going down on the wreck ; but before they 
" ' United Service Journal,' i. 1S4(', p. Iii4. '* Ibid., i. 1840, p. .'ms. 




had descended low enougii, a pleasure yacht having run foul of 
the lump from which the bell was being lowered, it was in con- 
sequence hauled up, as every man was wanted to assist in saving 
the yacht. 

The diving-bell was empl/yed a second time on the 4th Sep- 
tember, with lance-corporal Harris and private John Skelton, as 
the sub-marine o;ierators. When the vessel had descended 
about eight fiithons, the message-board and caution-line got 
entangled, and th ; divers were consequently hauled to the sur- 
face. A mishap of this kind would have discouraged some 
beginners, but spirited and willing, they only cared to succeed, 
and down again iliey went, reaching the bottom in little more 
than fonrU-en fathoms.- As, however, no less than two and 
a-hailfci't of water had entered the bell, it was rendered ineffica- 
cious for any useful result. Owing to 50 men, hardy seamoMi 
and marines from the ' Pique ' frigate, working the capstan p.nd 
machinery, the descent was accomplished in ten and a-iialf 
minutes, and the re-ascent in eight and a-lialf ; but when only 
30 men were employed on the former occasion, the asce: *■, went 
through the insufferably tedious period of 27 minutes. After 
these trials, the diving-bell, which from its unwieldy weight 
required no less than forty-iiine men to be onij)loyed in various 
ways to raise it, was discarded and sent into I'ortsmouth dock- 

On the 5th September a Lirge wrought iron cylinder filled 
with powder to be fired against the wreck, was found to have a 
small leak in it. " This would have been of no importance, as 
only a few pounds of jwwder were thereby spoiled; but VM.en 
the whole of the powder was ordered to be enq)tied on' that 
the hole might oe repaired, unfortunately, the operation was 
carelessly executed," inasmuch as water which should have been 
poured into the cylinder was not done. \\ hon, therefore, 
private ('harles Brabant was afterwards employed in soldering 
a piece of tin over the hole, tiie powder still rcnaining in the 
cylinder blew up, and a f'ra<i!uent from it broke one of his 
thighs, and then indented its jlf in the deck. " This accident 
'•' 'United Service Journal,' i. 1840, p. IS'). 



r 1839. 

was much regretted by every one, especially as the young 
soldier thus injured bore an excellent character, and was one 
of the most useful men employed, his services as a tinman 
being in constant requisition." '^ 

The method adopted for unloading the powder from the 
cylinders when any was found to be damaged, and for pre- 
serving the good powder, was as curious as it was dangerous. 
" Having removed j)art of the outer casing of lead, corjjoral 
David Harris cut a hole through the side of the wood-work, by 
which, after emptying a part of its contents, he got into the 
cylinder, and continually kept filling a copper shovel with 
powder, which he handed out from time to time when full. At 
those periods only could any portion of him be seen. ^Vhen 
rising up in his hole he displayed a face as black as a chimney- 
sweep's." To knock off the powder which had become caked 
either by wet or compression, he was provided with a wooden 
wedge and a copper hammer. Every precaution was taken to 
prevent accid Mit, such as jmtting out the fires, laying hides on 
the deck ;; id wetting them occasionally, as well as working in 
slippers. The duty was very unpleasant, and required in the 
operation more than ordinary courage."* 

Soldering the loading-hole of the cylinder was also a dan- 
gerous service. " The neck and loading-hole were of brass, in 
the form of an hour-glass, soldered to the iron-work. As the 
hole was to have a disc of metal soldered over it after the 
cylinder was filled with powder, with a plug and some inches of 
clay between the powder and the disc, Mr. Taplin, a foreman 
in Portsmouth dockyard, was requested to send one of his 
artificers to do it who was accustomed to that sort of soldering ; 
but the man sent to do it was horror-struck at the idea of the 
thing, and declared he would not attempt it for a thousand 
l)oimds !" The hole was eventually soldered by private Skelton, 
though unused to the work.'" 

'■* 'United Service .lournal,' i. 1840, p. 156. Krabant was discharged in 
April, 1841, on a pension of lid. a-day. Ho wa« (iiiite lame, but shortly after 
obtained the situation of turnkey to Maidstone gaol. 

"■ ' United Service Journal,' i. 1840, p. aao. '" Ibid., p. 323, 324, 




Tlie first helmet divers were corporal Harris and private 
William Reid," who volunteered to act if required. They went 
down for trial in fifteen fathoms water near the ' Success ' fri<rate 
one day when the regular divers were not required at the 
wreck. On another occasion when Hiram London had injured 
his hand, " corporal Harris went down four times to the wreck 
in one slack, and succeeded in slinging four pieces of timher, all 
of whicl) were hrought up." "* 

Sergeant-major Jones, it is recorded, assisti 1 lieutenant 
Synionds with great efliiciency, " and being very neany as skilful 
in the management of boats and aj)plication of the mechanical 
powers as in the use of gunpowder," his services were very 
important. Private \\"illiam Read ''■* ])repared the voltaic bat- 
tery for use, Jissisted by one or two others of the detachment, 
and his skill and steadiness, at all times a])j)arent, were more 
decided in moments of difficulty. " Private John Skelton, a 
blacksmith, not only did everything essential in his own trade, 
but worked as a tinman in soldering no the loaded c\ Urs, 
and contrived to put the air-])ipes in yood order when the 
attempt seemed liopeless. Being also one of the most active 
men in boats or at the capstan, when not enq)loyed as an arti- 
ficer, he and private William Read were appointed lance- 
corporals on the conclusion of the service." ^ The detachment 
returned to the corps at Woolwich in the ' Mcdoa ' steamer on 
the fith November, 183!). The working pay of the sergeant- 
major was 2s. a-day, and the rank and file Is. a-day each. 

'^ A mnn of varied acquirements, a good surveyor, and an expert draughts- 
man and clerk, and assisted in executing tlie wood engravings in Colonel 
Pasley's ' Practical Oi)cralions of a Siege,' for which his name is recorded at 
page 7(i of the first edition of tliat work. Disposed to hahits of irregularity, 
he never received promotion, and was ])ensioued at Is. a-day in January, 1850, 

'" 'United Service Journal,' i. 1840, p. •W,'). 

'" Now sergeant-major at the royal engineer estahlislnnent, Chatham. 

•" ' United Service Journal,' 1840, p. .'I.'}'. A minute and faithful record of 
the operations will be found in the ' United Service Journal,' i. 1840, pp, 72-83, 
149-164, 319-338. 

vol,. I. 






Ueturn of tlie (U-tachntent from Spain — Its conduct during the war— Survey 
of the northern counties uf Kiij^land— Notice of sergeant Cottinghani — 
Secondary triaugulation of the north of Scotland — Increase to survey allow- 
ances — Augnieutation to the survey companies — Kenewal of survey of the 
disputed boundary in the state of Maine — Corporal Ilearnden at Sandhurst 
— Wreck of the ' lloyal George;' duties of the sappers in its removal — 
Exertions of sergeant major .Tones — The divers — An accident— Usefulness of 
the detachment engaged in the work— Boat adventure at Spithead — Andrew 
Anderson — Thomas P. Cook— Transfer of detachment from the Mauritius to 
the Cape— Survty of La Caille's arc of meridian there — Detachment to 
Syria — Its active services, including capture of Acre — Ueinforcement to 

The services of tlie sappers in Sj)ain were of a nature similar to 
those in which they were engaged during the greater part tf 
the previous year ; and the diligence and ability shown in their 
execution drew re})oated expressions of admiration from Lord 
John Ilay. "They cciuld tm-n their hands," it is recorded, 
" to anything and everything.' Under orders from the Admi- 
ralty, the detachment, nineteen -tiimg, was withdrawn from Spain 
and arrived at Woolwich in the ' Alban' steamer, 22nd August, 
1840. Its original strength increased by subsequent reinforce- 
ments, reached thirty-six of all ranks : the ditference was occa- 
sioned by the removal of invalids, five deaths, and one killed 
by falling over a precipice. 

Lord John Hay, in a letter to Lieutenant Vicars, ll.E., parted 
with the detachment in the following eulogistic terms : — 

"The Lords ("ommissioners of the Admir.ilty luiving ordered 
me to embark the detachment of royal sappers and miners 
under your connnand for a passage to Eijnland, have directed 
me at tlie same time to convey to yours^clf, the officers, non- 
commissioned officers, and privates of the tletachment, their 




lordships' marked approbation of the zeal, gallantry, and good 
conduct which have been displayed by them on all occasions 
during the long course of service in which they have been em- 
ployed on this coast, 

" In communicating this expression of their lordships' satis- 
faction, I avail myself of the opportunity of again recording my 
thanks to yourself, the officers, non-commissioned officers, and 
privates of the detachment, for the zeal and gallantry with 
which my orders have at all times been carried into effijct, and 
particularly for the ability displayed in the erection of the 
various works of defence entrusted to you." 

At the commencement of the principal triangulation of Great 
Britain, it was carried forward more with a view to the solution 
of the ai'tronomical problem connected with the size and figure 
of the earth than as a basis for an accurate topographical 
survey. In pursuance of this object, a series of triangles had 
been carried northward from the Isle of Wight, and continued 
to the north coast of Yorkshire in 1806 ; but a portion of the 
east of Yorkshire was still left without any fixed points or 
stations. The series went along the eastern edge of the Cleave- 
land vale ; but nt that time the mountaincms country on the 
west of Cloaveland, and in Derbyshire, Westmoreland, Cum- 
berland, Purharn, and Northumberland, was inaccessible for 
trigononiotrical stations from the want of roads, or other local 
ajjproaches. These having been subsecjuently constructed, a 
detachment of the corps was sent in May, 1840, under 
Lieutenant Pipon, Il.E., into the northern counties, to visit 
some stations in order to fix the points to expedite the topogra- 
phical survey. The party encamped on the Great Whernside 
mountain near Kettlewell, and from this time a force of the 
corps has ever since been employed in the English surveys, 
gradually swelling the numbers of the latter, as the progi-ess of 
the work in Ireland permitted their removal.' 

' .Ainbrdso rottinpham was the first sorpoant dcfaclu'd from Ireland for tlie 
survey of Kiiplaiiil, and lie assisted in snperinteuding a larjxe force of field 
surveyors. It is reeorded that " lie jHrforiiled this arduous and important 
duty in a muiiiier highly advuutagoous to the service, and caused contiderahle 

2 A 2 




For the secondary triatigulation of the north of Scotland, 
sixteen rank and file were provided in May, and by the fall of 
the year they had increased to thirty-one men. From this 
period Scotland has always had a few sections of sappers em- 
ployed in its national snrveys ; but of late, the numbers have 
swelled to some magnitude. 

Similar advantages as to working pay granted to the sai)pcrs 
in Ireland were extended to the detachments occupied in the 
surveys of Great Britain, to give due encouragement to their 
exertions. Four shillings a-day were also granted to non-com- 
missioned officers suj)erintcnding large forces of field surveyors, 
to cover the extra exjienscs incurred, and compensate for the 
labour and fatigue endured in the i)crfoiTnance of this duty. 

On the IDth June, 1H40, by order of Sir Ilussey Vivian, the 
Master-General, the survey companies were increased by one 
sergeant, one corporal, and one second cor))oral, but to i.iake 
up for this addition, the privates were reduced three men per 
company. The cstiiblishment for each of the three companies 
was therefore fixed as follows : — 




2ii(I C<jri)ls. 





This measure was recommended by Colonel Colby because, 
as he expressed it, " the general conduct of the non-connnis- 
sioued officers was so excellent that a selection for ])roniotion 
could seldom be given as a reward for a spc'.nal service without 
showing a jircference for some class of duty to the exclusion of 
others equally onerous and well performed ;" and even with this 
increase, a non-c(mimissioned officer higher than the rank of 
lance-corporal, could not be spared to assist in the charge of the 
detachment on the Great Whernside Mountain. 

Second-corporal John McQueen was sent in the suuuner 
with Captain Broughton, R.E., and Mr. Featherstonhaugh to 

saviiifi! of expense in that liranch of the work." Beyond, however, liis zeal, 
industry, and the capahility of keeping large hodies of men in fnll activity, he 
possessed no available acquirements. In April, 1844, he quitted the service on 
a pension of Is. 8'/ a-day, and having amassed some property by his frugality, 
retired to Mayfield in Sussex. 




the disputed territory in North America, to aid in its recon- 
naissance and survey, lie was dressed in ))lain clothes and 
wore in his girdle a brace of pistols. ()j)erations commenced 
on the 1st August at the Grand Falls, and ceased for the 
winter on the 5th October, at which date the commissioners 
reached Quebec. Throughout this period corporal McQueen 
was in the bush. His duty, apart from the general services of 
the survey, comprised the registration of the barometers and 
tlierniometers every hour, often at intervals of half an hour, 
taking the bearings of the several streams, superintending the 
movements of the camp equipage and stores, and issuing the 

The service was not accomplished without hardship and 
occasional privation. The nuux'hiug, too, was toilsome, and it 
was the lot of the corporal sometimes to struggle through 
swamps and ford streams where the exertion of swinnning was 
necessary for his safety. The snow at times was deep ; the 
cold in the morning great ; but generally at mid-day the heat 
from the density of the woods was almost insupportable. The 
sandflies wliich infested the bush were a distressing nuisance ; 
and the expedition, to protect themselves from swollen faces and 
blindness, resorted to the exi)udient of covering the face with 
a gauze veil, or of tying round their hats a piece of burning- 
cedar, by the hostile fumes of which the stinging swarm 
was kept at bay. On t)ie party reaching (Juebec, corporal 
McQueen was quartered in the artillery barracks, and. worked 
diu'ing the winter in tlie ^^ngineer dej)artnient, pre])aring for the 
next sunniier expeditioji such utensils and conveniences as the 
experience of the past had jjroved to be desirable. 

Both terms at Saiidhurst the detachment employed with the 
gentlemen cadets, was in charge of corporal Kobert Ilearnden, 
and being an active and intelligent non-commissioned ofticer, he 
actjuitted himself extremely well. '• With his own hands he 
conq)leted," says the oHicial report, "the masonry of a small 
spHnter-proof nmgazine, including a roof ingeniously con- 
structed of tiles so arranged as to break joint, and imbedded in 
cement, wliich gives to the whole work the ap|)earance and 



\ 1840. 

strength of a stone root." Both parties hxboured with readiness 
and industry, and maintained their usual exemplary character. 
Corporal Joseph T. Meyers had been several times at Sand- 
hurst, and was found so assiduous and deserving a non-commis- 
sioned officer, that the governor of the College rewarded him 
by giving him the appointment of staft'-sergeant at that institu- 

Early in May, one bugler and twenty-two rank and file, v.ith 
serjeant-niajor Jones, returned to the wreck of the ' lloyal 
George ' at Si)ithead, and under the executive charge of 
Lieutenant Symonds, R.E., resumed the operations which were 
susjjended in the winter of the previous year. Colonel Pasley 
had the direction of the service. The duties of the saj)])ers 
were similar in all respects to those mentioned on the fonner 
occasion, and the composition of the party rendered it fully 
equal to the varied and novel circumstances of so peculiar an 
undertaking. On the 27th October, the winter then having 
completely set in, the operations were again suspended, and the 
detachment returned to Chatham, 

When Lieutenant Symonds quitted early in October, sergeant- 
major Jones took charge of the service, which he managed 
with success, and was fortunate in recovering a considerable 
portion of the wreck. Throughout the season his zeal, judg- 
ment, and activity gained the high commendation of Colonel 

Corporal David Harris was employed for several months as 
a diver. Ambitious to earn fame in the art, he rivalled by his 
exertions the professional civil divers. With exciting rapidity 
he sent aloft planks, beams, staves, iron knees, gi'ape-shot, frag- 
ments of gun-carriages, abundance of sheet-lead, remnants of 
the galley, and a thousand et ceteras. It was he who ferreted 
into the store-room, and cleared out its heterogeneous contents, 
recovering by bis zeal crates of brass locks, bolts, nuts, copper 
hoops, and axletrees. Now he would penetrate into a maga- 
zine, and remove its powder-baiTcls am' bulls' hides ; then, 
tearing down the decks and walls, would anon push into a car- 

' On ()uittiii); the college became a clerk to the mililary prison at Oosport. 




pouter's shop, and 8urj)rise all hands with instahncMits of sash- 
frames, window-woights, plato.-glass, and ongiiie-hose. Into tho 
craters formed hy the largo exj)losicns he would fearlesi^ly enter, 
and, j)rohed on all sides by projecting spars and splintered 
beams, would drag from the abysses huge timbers and unwieldy 
masses of the wreck, that strained from their weight the pow- 
erful shackles and gear used to raise them on board. An 
entire 32-poundcr gun-carriage he also obtained ; and only for 
the sna])ping of tho slings, would have had a gun recorded to 
his credit. Indeed, it was on the way to the surface, when it 
dropped from the broken roj)es and was lost for the summer. A 
guinea of 17G8, the only one which saw the light during tbj 
season, was among the spoils which Harris had recovered. For 
experiment this corporal tried to dive in ono of Bethcll's dresses, 
but after two or three attempts it had so exhausted his energies, 
that he was compelled to abandon its use. From the 2t)th May 
till the winter set in, he dived incessantly, except when prevented 
by heavy gales of wind, the strength of the tide, or the occa- 
sional sickness which was inseparable from so hard a duty. 
Frequently he earned as much as 48. Gd. a-day working pay. 

Lance-corporal John Skelton, and j)iivates Charles Synion, 
Kichard rillman Jones, Thomas Penny Cook, Josei)h Ireland, 
and Andrew Duncan, also dived at intervals when available 
dresses offered them chances of engaging in the perilous ser- 
vice. In the journal of the operations Lieutenant Symonds 
writes — " I find but little difference between them and the other 
divers, except that the sajjpers work with a better will." The 
first two of these young divers were the most promising. The 
former, moreover, from his skill and ingenuity as an artificer, 
made himself very useful, and his diligence as a workman was 
felt in various ways. Most of the delicate work connected with 
the diving-apparatus, air-pumps, voltaic-batteries, etc., in which 
a])proved judgment and intelligence were required, wjis turned 
out of tho hands of this craftsman in a manner that satisfied 
to tlie utmost those whose lives dei)ended u])on the accuracy 
and completeness of his labours. 

Only one accident of a serious nature occurred : this was to 




private Andrew Duncan, who a day or two before bad slung a 
large beam of the orlop-deck with knee attached, which was 
hove on board with great difficulty. He had on one of Deane's 
dresses, which required the head and helmet to be kept upright. 
Losing this position he topj)led over, and falling into a hole, the 
water rushed into his helmet and nearly drowned him. On 
being brought up his face was cased with mud, and lie remained 
insensible for several minutes, bleeding from the mouth and 
ears. Chafing, with other simple remedies, however, soon re- 
stored him. 

Corporal William Read'' had again the management of the 
voltaic battery, which was almost in constant use, and gave 
every siitisfaction. The powder expended in the operations was 
15,000 lbs. Innumerable were the charges fired against the 
wreck, none containing less than 1 !:^ lbs. of gunpowder, nor 
more than 260 lbs. All the privates showed the greatest energy 
and activity in the duties they were called on to perform. Both 
in boats and the work necessary for getting uj) the fragments of 
the wreck, whether at the windlass or cajjstan, &e., in the re- 
pair of the launches, the preparation of the charges, and the 
loading and unloading of the cylinders, they were found pronij)t, 
spirited, and efficient, and their example was very beneficial in 
exciting the emulation of the sailors. So well indeed had the 
detachment been constituted, that, for its numbers, it was eipial 
to the execution of any mechanical service which the operations 
demanded. In their general duties privates James Ilegarty 
and Joseph Ireland were the most conspicuous.* Exertion and 
ship ftire made the whole party strong and hardy, and a few 
weeks roughing it on shipboard turned them out as weather- 
beaten and brawny as seamen. 

During this season at Spitbead there was a strong gale from 
the eastward, and the storm-flag was hoisted at Gosport. No 
boats would venture out, and the ' Success ' frigate, with a part 
of the detachment on board, was in danger of parting from iier 

" Now sergeant-major of the royal engineer establislunent. 
* ' Corps Orders,' Chatham, Uflth October, 18-JO. ' Manuscript .lournal of 
the Operations.' 




anchors and drifting to sea. Lieutenant Symonda was on shore 
at the time, and tliinking his proHMice necessary to secure her 
safety, determined to attempt the passage. The civil divers, 
accustomed to perilous hoat service, said no hoat could live; in 
such a sea, and the Port-.^dmiral refused his permission for 
Lieutenant Symonds to proceed unless on his own responsihility. 
Unahle from the raging storm to row out of the harbour, he, 
with four sapjMjrs, hauled the gig along shore for more than 
two miles, and wiien a good offing was gained, the lug-sail was 
hoisted and the boat pushed off. With the tact and sagacity of 
a skilful pilot. Lieutenant Symonds guided the gig, now skirting 
the furious wave, now skimming across its angry top, and anon 
lost for a time between the furious billows of a long, deep 
trough. To lessen the danger of the fearful venture, the men 
lay down in the hoat for ballast, and pulling ofi" their boots, 
used them, with noble exertion, in baling out the water as she 
shipped the sea. At length, to tlic utter amazement and joy 
of the party on board, the gig reached the frigate. Then, 
however, the peril was increased, for frequently like a log she 
was df'shed against the hull of the vessel, and as frciiuently 
nearly foundered ; but liy the s])irited exertions of the brave 
lieutenant and his intrepid crew, the boat was eventually 
secured, and all gained unhurt the deck of the * Success.' 
Lieutenant Symonds then took such furtiier ja-ecautions as were 
indispensable for the safety of tlie shij), and she successfully 
outrode the storm. 'J'lu- names of the gig's crew were ju'ivates 
John Hegarty, Andrew Anderson,^ Thomas V. ( 'ook," and John 

* His career in the corps was somewhat (.■venttul. A noble soUller, with a 
spirit that nothing oouUl <lepress, he was often selected for unusual enterprises. 
lie received a nuMlal for the Kallir war of 184ii-7. Another he received, and 
a scond-class prize of live pounds, for his services at the CJreat Kxliihition. 
Was also 'lonoured with the order of the Medjidie for his heroic conduel at the 
battle of (Jnirp'vo, and wore a medal for the Crimea. After serving a peiiod 
in the trenches before Sebastopol, his life was sacrificed to his excesses. One 
morning, to the deep regret of his officers aj.d liis comrades, he was found dead 
in his tent. 

' Wa' recorded for distinguished conduct in the Kaffir war of 184(). Ac- 
coniiianying that portion of the corps which served at Gallipoli and Ihilgaria. 
he was, on account of his experience and soldier-like deportment, ajipointed 




( 'lunplwll : ' tlie two latter became colour-scrgeauta in the 

On the com])lction of the citadel at the Mauritlua, the half- 
oonipany stationt'd there was removed (ni the 7tii October, under 
the connnand of Lieutenant G. R. Hutchinson, U.E., in the 
' Isjibelhi IJlyth' to the Cajjc of (iood Hope, whore it Ian-led 
on the 27th of the same month. The cliicf of the work at 
Port Louis was executed by the sajipers, in which ])rivate8 ^^'il- 
liam Reynolds and William Oawford" displ.iycd the most skill 
and obtained the most credit. Four det;u;hmenta had b(!en 
sent to the Mauritius, whose united strength reached fifty of all 
ranks : of these the casualties amounted to ten deaths and one 

Sergeant John Hemming and seven rank and file embarked 
at Woolwich on the iUh April, 1H40, and landed at the Oape 
of Good Hope in July. The party was detached under Oaj)- 
tain Henderson, R.E., to assist the colonial astronomer, Mr. 
Maclear, in the remeasurement of La Caille's arc of the meri- 
dian. All were armed with rifles and accoutrements to j)rott'ct 
them in a wild country, and the sergeant was selected to take 
charge of the detachment from his well-known steadiness and 
intelligence. Working pay was granted to each for his services, 
according to individual exertion and general usefulness, up to 
3s. per day. 

A few weeks were spent in the preliminary business of ad- 
justing the instruments in Cape Town, when the party, to which 
some men of the 25th regiment had been added, left in Sep- 
tember for Zwavtland and Groonekloof, west of the Berg Uiver. 
On this extensive plain the base was measured with the com- 

sorgeant-niiijor to the txpedition. Through sickness his strong built frame 
liad become so weak and attenuated, that when the cholera seized him lie was 
carried off in a few hours. He died on board the ' Andes,' when sailing for 
the Crimea. 

' Will be found noted on the same page with hig late comrade, sergeant 
Cook, for the determination and intelligence he displayed in the Kaffir war (»f 

" Uoth were discharged from the corps by re(iuett at the Cajie of Rood 




])cn8ation l)ar8 invented hy (Lionel (J()ll)y, but as Ln faille's 
arc eoiil'.l not be identified, a new line very near to it was laid 
out and measured about seven miles in length, wliicli oceu]iied 
ironi Octol)er, 1840, to April, 1841." In this service the i)arty 
cjirried out the subordinate details. Tiiey a-iMsted in (h'iviiifr 
the pickets and the placement of the trestles to sustain the 
bars. These were scientifically fixed by the colonial astronomer 
and Capt^iin Henderson, aided by the sappers. Two men were 
also appointed to <^uard the last point of observation whilst the 
bars were bein<j cnrried forward and adjusted ; and another 
occasionally attended to the registration of the observations, 
'"'hus the work continued until *'ie whole distance was measured. 
T'le delicate nature of the duty rendered it very irksome, and 
iccjuired mucb assiduous care in its performance. The jar of 
a bar simply would have been sufficient to cause the loss of a 
(lay's work. Nearly the whole time the saj)pers worked from 
four in the morning till eight or nine at night In July, 1841, 
the i)arty returned to winter quarters. 

By the terms of a treaty, dated 15th July, 1840, Mehenict 
Ali was required to accept certain conditions within a limited 
time, and, if he declined, the forfeiture of the pachalic of Acre 
and the loss of Egypt were to follow. Having allowed the time 
to elapse, offensive ojjerations commenced to compel him to 
evacuate Syria. England l)eing greatly involved in the treaty, 
the British Cabinet at once sent a fleet under Admiral Sir 
Robert Stojjford to the coast, with which was a small force of 
the ordnance corps, to assist the troops of the S dtan in this 

On the 7th August one sergeant and eleven rank and file 
embarked at Gibralta- on board the 'Pique' frigate, under 
Colonel Sir Charles Smith, Bart., R.E., for active duty with the 
fleet. A liberal assortment of intrenching and tradesmen's 
tools accompanied the party. On the 1st September it arrived 
at Beirout, and a landing was effticted on the 10th. Second- 

» ' Prof. Paptrs,' Now Series, i. p. 32. 

'" ' Prof. Papers,' Itoyal liiigiucers, vi. p. 47. 




corporal Johr. Moore" accompanied the firet detachmciit that 
hindod, and was present at the advanced position above the Dog 

On the same day the sappers landed at D'Junie from the 
' Pique ' frigate, and after occupying the lines were employed 
in repairing and imj)roving them until the 10th October, (.'or- 
p^ral Henry Brown and private John Greig'^ were in the 
meantime sent on in the ' Hydra ' steamer, and were present 
on the 25th and 26th September at the taking of Tyre and 
Sidon. Soon after their return to D'Junie, the whole party 
embarked in the ' Stroarboli * steamer, and served at the cajiture 
of Beirout on the 10th and 11th October. On the iJrd Novem- 
ber, sergeant Black and three privates were pretent on board 
the ' Princess Charlotte ' at the taking of Acre, and were the 
first troops that entered lliai: famous city. In all these opera- 
tions the sappers we-.e under the orders of Lieutenant Aldrich, 
K.E. " Their conduct," writes that olKcer, " in their extens-ive 
and arduous duties, and under suH'ering from great sickness, 
has been most e.vemplary ;" and again, in a despatch from Lord 
Palmerston, the ajjprobation of Ilcr ^lajesty's Government is 
conveyed for the share the ])arty took in the capture of Acre, 
and for th'j zeal and al)ility displayed by them in restoring th.; 
defences of the place after its cajjture. 

A sec( nd detachment of ten rank and ide arrived at Beirout 
on the 13th December in the 'Hecate' steamer, under Lieu- 
tenant J. ]'". A. Symonds, R.L., from Woolwich, and was sent 
in the ' Vesuvius ' to Acre, to reinforce the sappers, and to assist 
at the breaches, taking with tl n a supply of intrenching tools. 
Tlie^ sapper forc(; in Syria now consisted of one sergeant and 
twenty-one rank and file. 

" This iiou-eomniissioiiod officer afterwards broke liis le{r at liiiroiit in falling 
from the roof of the ordnance store in endeavouring to jjet acei s-s to a IniiUlinji 
sdioiuinp it whieh was on fire. In Jauuarj, lS4;i, he was pensioned at I.-. !)'/. 
a-day, and •■migrated to Canada. 

'•' Was a clever nieclianic and a hand.some soldier, Imt his constitution even- 
tually gave way under the influence of the Syrian fever, and he di<>d in 
October, 1847. 





Syria— lianilingatC^aifFii; Mount Can. lel — Cavo of Elijali; tpidoniic — {^olour- 
sei'^i'aiit lilack — Iiispoclion at Hcirout liy tlu' Seniskiri , return of the df- 
laoliiiieiit to lOiifilaiul — l^xjii'ditioii to the Niger — Mode! •'■■•••» — (iori — I'ever 
sets in; return of tln' expedition — Ser\ iees of the sappers attaclied to it — 
(\)rporal Edmonds and tlie elephant — and the Princess — Start'-serfreant's 
undress — Start' appointments — Wreek of tlie ' lioyal Georjie ' — Sergeant 
March —Sapper-divers — Curiosities — Under-water pay; means used to aid 
the divers -Speaking under water — Gallantry of private Skelton— Alarming 
accidents — Constitut'cnal unfitness for diving — Honndarj' sirvey in the 
state of Maine — Angmem.'tion to corps fc liernnula — Sandhurst; corporal 
Carlin's services — (^uariern aster-sergeant Eraser — Intrepidity of private 
Entwisllc— Colonel Pasley — Efliciency of the corps — Its conduct, i id im- 
policy of reducing its establishment — Sir John Jones's opinion of he sappers 
— And also the Rev. G. U. (ileig's. 

A romiox of tlie (Ictaclinient in Syria was removed from Verc 
to JafTa en tlie 11th January. About this time, lance-corporal 
Hugh Smith' accompanied Lieutenant Aldrich to Medjel. 
From the 23rd ^''cbrnary to the 12th April, three of the party 
from Acre assisted J^ientenants Aldrich and Syiiionds in the 
survey of Jerusalem and Sidon, lialtiiij>- on the route at Jericho, 
Nablous, and Safed. Sergeant IJlack was left in charge of 
the ri'storations at Acre ; but owing to the plague which had 
been so fatal to the royal niaivies, he was soon after removed 
with the remainder of the detachment to Jaffa, in the defensive 
occupation of which he and his men wen; engaged for about six 
weeks. The party then returned to IJeirout, and was occni)ied 

' Was disclurged in October, If*.")!), and pensioned at Is. '.) /. a-day. Out of 
a service of tiiirteen years in the corps, he was eleven abroad, at (iibraltar, 
in Syi'ia, ana China. From the last slation he lelurned in a distressing sta'c- 
of eniacia'jon and weakness. 'I'her'', though a sergeant, the necessities of th. 
service rtM.'uircd that he should labour at llie anvil, and the skilfuliiw^o uT Ills 
work was s.tperi m- to anything tliai einild be procured at Hong Kong. 




in various contingent services ; such as repairing the billets 
])rovide(l for the troops by the Ottoman government. Here the 
three men rejoined from Jerusalem and Sidon. All the ])arty 
was subjected to much inconvenience from the want of those 
essentials in barrack furniture which formed no part of the 
inventory of a Turkish soldier's accommodation ; and, to sup))ly 
the deficiency, the carpenters of the detachment made some 
tables, forms, and other indispcmsjible utensils. 

On the 23rd Ajiril twelve of the fea])pers sailed in the 
' Phoenix ' for Caiffa, and in disembarking, under rain, the 
boat was swamped in a heavy surf. The men made the shore 
as best they could, but lost most of the public stores and their 
baggage. Before sunset they were tented on the beach, and, 
in a few days, the encampment was removed under ]M()unt 
Cannel,- there to await the cessation of the plague, and after- 
wards to repair again to Acre to strengthen the defences. It 
was at firet intended to take up a station near the convent on 
the mount, but that quarter was found to be in quarantine, on 
account of the plague being at Caiffa, only a few hundred 
yards off. No resource was left but to seek shelter mider canvas, 
which, in a country subject to endemics, was very inimical to 
health ; and that, combined with the circumstance of the i)arty 
being detached without a medical officer, might have added one 
more calamity to the ftital incidents of the campaign. A qua- 
rantine cordon was therefore formed around the encampment, 
and every means adojited to prevent fever, from contiguity or 
local miasma, appearing in the tents. 

The sappers now took their meals in the sjicred cave of 
I'llijah — a cool but ill- ventilated retreat. The water at the 
camj) was deleterious to health; but, alter the 21st .June, 
mountain spring-water, obtained three miles away, was brought 
for their use. In a country subject to plague and fever, a 
European holds his life by a precarious tenure : the detaeh- 

* St'O a ivpresei.tatidii ii' llii' ciieampnu'iit in the ' ProfVssional I'apci's, If.K.' 
vi., p. 22. This was tho iicilo allixcd to thi' first I'ditioii, l)ut tlie plate roronvd 
to is on so small a scale, it would need inoru than tho assistance of a powerful 
glass to discover the site of the tents. 




mcnt felt this, but bore up well, notwithstanding the cabsence of 
a medical officer. Dr. Zorab, a Turkish practitioner, made one 
or two professional visits to the party, and then Mr. Robertson, 
De])uty Inspector-deneral, voluntarily joined the camp from 
Reirout. Three weeks afterwards, he was relieved by Assistant- 
Surgeon Acton, R.N., who had scarcely commenced his duties 
when the fever attacked the party. The two men employed out- 
side the cordon were the first seized with the malady, and every 
man of the party was soon under treatment. In most of the eases 
the seizure was highly dangerous, nmt in forty-eight hours the 
strongest man was completely prostiate. It was not until the 
shelter of a building for the sufferers could be obtained that the 
skill of Dr. Acton was of any avail. Four of the men died, and 
the remainder were conveyed in the ' Stromboli,' on the 10th 
July, to Reiront. Two more were invalided to England, and the 
other six only regained convalescence after a long period of illness. 
Constantly moving alop'f the coast, end)arking and disem- 
barking the stores, made the duties of the detachment laborious ; 
and both colour-sergeant William Rlack ^ and second-corporal 
Henry Rrown * were promoted, in consequence of the efficient 
manner in which they executed those services, and for their 
zeal before the enemy. At one time, the engineer park in 
charge of the former consisted of 100,000 sand-bags with a 
proportional quantity of field implements and tools, and was 
never less than 72,000 sand-bags. He also issued commissariat 
stores to the whole camp. 

' Was pensioned at 2s. a-Jay in Janiiaiy, 1851. In the corps he served 
nearly twenty-four years, of which period he waa seventeen and a-half abroad, 
at Corfu, the Kuplirates, Gibraltar, Syria, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. His 
great merits ol)tained for him the ^rant of an annuity of 1(7. a-year, and a 
silver medal, and an appointment as messenger to the cominamling royal engi- 
neer's office, in the London district. Tlirougli Lieutenant-Colonel Aldrich, 
his comniandina-ofiicer in Syria, he was also appointed a yeoman of the Queen's 
Guard. The enmluments derived by him from these different sources, amount- 
ing to about l(il7. a-year, with excellent quarters, are the hard and just earn- 
ings of a life full of vicissitude and devotion to the service. 

* Now a iiuarternuisler-scrgcant in the corps; and besides serving a second 
tour at Gibrallar, was present at the reduction of liomarsund and the siege of 
Sebastopol. Is in receipt of an annuity of \Ul. a-year, and wears live medals 
and a clasp for his active services. 




At Beirout the party was occasionally employed on the 
works, and furnished a guard for the station, in concert with 
the royal artillery. On the 1st December, the Seraskier, Selim 
Pacha, and Colonel Rose, conmianding the ex])edition, nispcctcd 
the detachment, jind expressed themselves in a flattering manner 
relative to their services in the country. The latter, iii orders, 
added his assnrance that he entertained the highest sense of 
their zeal and efficient services on all occasions ; and the Sultan 
awarded to each a medal in conmiemoration of the campaign.* 
From the ins])cction parade of the Seraskier, the detachment, 
reduced from twenty-two to fourteen men, embarked on board 
the 'Thunderer,' and landed at Malta on the 27th December, 
where they j)assed two months in the Forts of Manoel and St. 
Elmo, and landed at Woolwich from the ' Gorgon ' steamer on 
the 23rd March, 1H42. 

On the 20th Februai-y, one corporal and seven privates 
embarked with the expedition under the command of (-aptain 
Trotter, ll.N., to the Niger. Its object was to explore the 
source of the river, to introduce civilisation into Africa, and t^ 
prevail on the chiefs to extinguish slavery. The sappers were 
divided into two sections : one was added to tlie crew of the 
' Albert ' steamer, and the other to the ' Wilberforce.' They 
had been specially taught at Chatham the mode of blasting 
rock under water, with a view to removing obstructions in the 
navigation of the streams of the Niger yet unsurveyed. Five 
were men of excellent character, but three were not in-eproach- 
able in point of sobriety. Tiie royal warrant sanctioning the 
formation of this special detachment is dated 7tli December, 
1840, and the corj)s was thereby increased from 1200 to 1208 
of all ranks. The party was armed with rifles and bayonet- 

Late in June the expedition reached Freetown, and, steaming 
along the coast, crossed the mouth of the Niger on the 13th 
August. After ])assing the Bight of Benin, the steamers 

' Till' medals wcro c.//v«''', but wiishoil, at the expense of the wearers, with a 
proparatioii that pave thciii the aii])ean\iii.'e of ;/»/(/. In 1848, the Hritisli Go. 
veniniont awanleil thoni silver medals for the same campaign. 




anchored ofF Ibu on the 26th ; and the king, Ohi, with the heir- 
apparent, Chikuna, and a vast retinue, visited the ' Albert.' 

On the 2nd September the expedition was off Iddah. To 
the king, or Attah of Egan-ah, a visit was paid by Captain 
Trotter. The sappers and seamen formed the guard of honour. 
Corporal Edmonds commanded, and he and all the men were 
grotesquely habited and decorated, to suit the barbaric taste of 
his majesty. 

Near the confluence of the rivers Niger and Tchadda were 
landed the wooden houses to form the model farm on Mount 
Stirling, j)urchascd from the King of Egarrah for 700,000 cowries. 
The Kroomen and seamen were the labourers in this service, 
and the sappers superintended the construction of the farm and 
the erection of the magnificent tent used in the Eglintoun tour- 
nament. The manipulation of the houses was jirepared in 
England, leaving nothing to do but to put the materials 
together. To do this effectually, some trivial details in wood 
and iron were made on the spot by the sappers. Private John 
Craig surveyed the island and accomplished his work with 
quickness <ind credit. The duties of the fann were greatly 
interrupted by the intolerable heat, and numbers seized by the 
fever were sent away in the ' \\'ilberforce ' and the ' .Soudan.' 
The whole of the model arrangements were at length concluded, 
and on the 21st September the ' Albert' got under weigh again. 
The sappers were then healthy. 

Passing Mugah, the ' Albert ' anchored off Gori on the 22nd, 
and (^aptain Trotter paid a visit to the chief C'orporal Edmonds 
was with the party. The chief and his officers were seated on 
mats in the court-yard — a space mea.'^uring about twelve feet 
by eight, formed by five ovally-shajied huts. He was an old 
man, ar 1 his counsellor answered the questions put to his 
maj'itty in a reserved and evasive manner. The streets of 
Gori > ' I'c very narrow, crooked, and puzzling, and in many 
places ■• wide enough to allow two persons to j)ass each other 
To make \> "V, Captain Trotter would suddenly open his um- 
biella, and the natives, surprised at the novelty, would scamper 
ofH alarmed. 

VOL. I. 2 b 




Continuing the ascent, the ' Albert' passed Bczzani, Kinanii, 
and Egga, and by the 5th of October, the sick had so greatly 
increased, that the charge of the ship fell on one of the mates. 
The expedition now turned for the sea, and j)assing the con- 
fluence on the l)th, steamed down the river in its more navi- 
gable channels, and landed at Fernando Po on the 18th. There 
for about six weeks, the expiring expedition was stowed away 
in miserable quarters, and tlic sad rcnuiant re-embarking, put 
into Ascension, and returned to England in the autumn of 
1842. All the sappers had been seized with the river fever, so 
called from its peculiarity. Some had severe relapses, but only 
two died — William Rabling at the confluence, on the shores of 
which he was interred, and William Moft'att, somewhere between 
the Niger and Ascension. 

The duties performed liy the detachment were in all respects 
the same as the marines, until the river Nigc^r was reached, 
when they acted as seamen ; but were never required to go 
aloft. Their chief services were rendered at the model farm. 
Corporal Edmonds was ship's corporal, and had charge of the 
after hold of the vessel containing the provisions of the officers. 
Whenever Captain Trotter, or any of the officers left the vessel 
for purposes of exploration, he always accompanied them as cox- 
swain, armed with a rifle and a full pouch of powdei'. Others 
of the party were also occasionally employed in this particular 
manner, and all, as their health pennitted, assisted by Kroomen, 
performed the last rites of sepulture on those fatal shores to the 
many dead. The special duty they were sent out to perform 
was not required of them, as nautical skill overcame the diffi- 
culties of the navigation without subaqueous blasting. While 
serving with the expedition, each sapper received double pay 
according to his rank, and free rations. Cor])oral Edmonds and 
private John Craig were specially noticed by Cajrtain Trotter. 
" Their steady, zealous conduct, even when sickness might have 
excuied them from duty, tended much to the good discipline of 
the ' Albert,' and merited," as the captain reported, " his best 
acknowledgments." The latter assisted with readiness, at all 
times, in some of the scientific observations. 




Above the conflrienco, corporal Edmonds* was out in the 
forest with Doctors M'William and Stangor, when suddenly 
turning round, he saw, approadiing from beliind a tree, a young 
elephant, wliicli was near to liim. In an instant he fired his 
rifle and the bullet ])ierced tlie animal in the head. Fearino- 
an attack by other elephants for this assault, tlu; gentlemen and 
the corporal hastened to the boats, but as none made their 
appearance, the party returned into the forest, when Edmonds, 
with a daring tliat bordered on rashness, rushed up to the 
enraged l)east and plunged his sword into its throat. The poor 
animal gave a few hoarse groans and expired. As trophies of 
this sanguiuaiy incident, Edmonds brought away its tusks, and 
Dr. M'William one of its feet. 

On the 24th of February, an undress frock coat was established 
for the start' sergeants of the corps. It was plain, without orna- 
ment of any kind, single-breasted, of dark Oxford mixture, with 
regimental buttons and Prussian collar. Tiie same undress is 
still worn ; but the colour has been changed from dark Oxford 
mixture to dark blue. — See Plate XVII., 1854. 

liy a commission dated 24th ^lay. Captain Henry Sandham 
was ajjpoiuted brigade-major in the room of Major Edward 
Matson, promoted to be assistant adjutant-general to the royal 
engineers. The latter officer had for many years been attached 
to the corps, and never did its character stand higher than 
under his conniiand. No means did he leave untried to elevate 
its ranks, and raise it in jjublic estimation. lie was a dis- 

° All anecdote may be given of this non-commissioned officer. One of tlie 
princesses of Iddali conceiving a liking for Edmonds, who was a handsome, 
dark-complexioned man, with a brilliant black eye, solicited the king, her 
father, to beg his retention there. Captain Trotter consented to let the corpo- 
ral remain until the return of the expedition. Edmonds was not averse to the 
arrangement ]irovided he was permitted to have with him a comrade from the 
'Albert.' This, however, was not conceded, and the corporal rejoined his 
ship ; but before doing so, the love-stricken princess contrived not to part with 
her paramour without easing him of his silk handkerchief! — to keep, perhaps, 
in remembrance of the interesting feeling he had iinw ittingly awakened in the 
royal breast. Edmonds served two stations, at ]3eriniida and Gibraltar, became 
a sergeant, and, on his discharge in 1854, was appointed foreman of works 
under the Inspector-General of Prisons in the convict establishment at Portland. 

2 n2 




ciplinarian in the right sense of the word, but in enforcing his 
orders, he always evinced such a just measure of mild con- 
sideration, that it was difficult to discover the rigidity with 
which he really acted. So much had he gained the gratitude 
of the corps, that the non-commissioned ofhcers at head-quarters 
respectfully solicited he would sit to an eminent artist for his 
portrait. One hundred pounds was the sum intended to be 
expended, if necessary, in its execution ; but as the rules of the 
service seemed to be opposed to such a testimonial, the jNIajor 
felt it to be his duty to decline the honour. 

Early in May, sergeant-major Jones and twenty-four rank 
and file proceeded to Spithead to resume the operations against 
the wreck of the ' Royal George.' This was the third season 
of their employment under the Admiralty ; and Lieut. G. l\. 
Hutchinson, U.E , was placed in executive command of the 
party. The Siime round of duties and toil): which marked their 
previous service at the wreck, were repeated with but little 
variation of detail this season. They were constantly on board 
ship, or employed in boats or lighters attending to the general 
business of the wreck, and often exposed to gales and storms, 
amid difficulty and peril, emulated in their coolness and exer- 
tions the weather-beaten seamen engaged for the service. All 
the artificers' work of every kind was executed by them. They 
were also entrusted with the entire management of the voltaic 
battery and explosions, and for a j)ortion of the time, the wliole 
of the helmet-diving devolved upon them. " Throughout the 
operations," writes (Jolonel Pasley, " they were of the greatest 
service by their zeal and exertions." The season closed on the 
29th October, and the detachment retured again to Chatham. 

Of individuals, Colonel Pasley makes honourable mention of 
the following : 

Sergeant-major Jones, for his able and zealous assistance to 
Lieut. Hutchinson in the management of the operations and 
preserving the discipline of the men. 

Sergeant Samuel March was very useful in special duties of 
importance ; and his drawings and sketches of several hundred 





interesting relics and detached portions of the wreck were well 

('orporal David Harris, lance-corporals Richard P. Jones and 
John Rae, and jmvates John Skelton, John Williams, and 
Roderick Cameron, made their services apparent in the duty of 
diving ; and several others, particularly privates James Anderson, 
James Jago, and Alexander M'Alpine, promised well. Of 
these second-rate divers Anderson was so far advanced that 
besides slinging numerous timbers, he probed his way to the 
dreary bottom of the ship and sent up 18 feet of the keelson. 
The successful exertions of the whole party attracted admiration, 
and an immense pile of about 18,()00 cubic feet, or 372 loads 
of timber, got up from the wreck in the summer, was deposited 
in Portsmouth dockyard, chiefly through their exertions. The 
divers were six or seven hours a day, and sometimes more, 
under water, at a depth of sixty or seventy feet ; and so skil- 
fully had they learned to economize time and save labour, that 
all sent up their bundles of staves, casks, or timber, as closely 
packed together, as a woodman would make uj) Lis fanjots in 

' Sergeant March was two seasons at Spitliead. Many of the sketches of the 
wreck were executed by him with the assistance of the camera lueida, kindly 
lent for the purpose by the late Captain IJasil Hall, K.N., from whom he 
received much useful instruction. Almost the wliule of his service has been 
passed in the professional office of the director of the royal engineer establish- 
ment at Chatham, in which, either as a draughtsman or a confidential leading 
clerk, he has always been found, from his attainments and constitutional energy 
of mind and body, efficient and valuable. From time to time he has drawn the 
plates forming the architectural course of the study of the junior officers of 
the corps and the Kiist India Company's engineers, and also the plans and 
other drawings and projects comprised in the military branch of the course. 
He is an excellent colourist, and has a good conception of light and shade. As 
an artist in water-colours, lie posses es undoubted talent and merit. Sergeant 
March is moreover an intellectual man and well informed. His controversial 
letters in reply to the calumnious attacks on the royal engineer establish- 
ment at Chatliam have been remarked for their honesty and boldness ; and 
his series of communications in the ' United Service Gazette,' in answer to 
the forcible animadversions of the celebrated 'Kmeritus' in the 'Times,' con- 
cerning Ordnance finance, werj not only well and truthfully written, but 
deserve for their vigour and appositeness as prominent a place in the columns 
of the ' Times,' as the conmiunications of the more favoured 'Emeritus.' This 
non-commissioned officer is now quartermaster-sergeant of the corps at 


HISTORY Ol-' 'I'llK 


the open air. In one haul, corporal Jonea sent up fifty-eight 
such pieces lasiied toi^ctlior, and corporal Harris ninety-one I 
Only one professional civil diver wa-s employed in concert with 
them for about half the season ; and of the five puns recovered, 
two brass 2'l-i)ounders, the most valuable of the whole, and an 
iron 32-pouniler, were got u[) by corporal Harris. This non- 
commissioned officer was a most confident and resolute diver, 
and in Siebe's dress, repeatedly plum into the sea, head fore- 
most, for exi)eriment. However sate might have been the 
ap])aratus, it required a bold spirit to make the first essay. 
Lance-corporal Jones, from his su|)erior intelligence, rendered 
himself eminently useful. He was the first to get to the bottom 
of the wreck ; and to ])rove his title to the honour, sent up 
13 feet of the kec'l." The larboard side, which leaned over 
when the vessel sunk, had fallen to pieces and was buried in the 
mud. This was the most troublesome jjart of the work ; and 
corporal Jones, by tact and pereeverance, after removing the 
timbers on that side, got uj) 300 superficial feet of outside 
planking covered with copper, under which he found the original 
ground on which the larboard bilge rested. His exertions were 
innnense, and the huge pile he recovered, w;i^ increased by 
several tons of iron ballast slung by him. Corporal Harris was 
no less successful in reaching jilaces hitherto untouched, for he 
wormed his way down to the floor timbers, found the lee side 
of the wreck, and came in contact with another foundered ship 
of some magnitude, from which he tore a couple of timbers and 
sent them aloft. This discovery was due to an unusual mode 
of descent in which Harris engaged. He went down from 
the yawl by the sweeps and was stopped in his course by the 
unknown wreck. On re-ascending he became entangled in the 
sweeps and the buoy-line, without, however, experiencing any 
inconvenience beyond the extra exertion of disengaging himself 
from their meshes. 

The curiosities obtained this season were in chief part sent 
up by Corporal Harris, and though intrinsically trifling, were 

' Three feet of the heel of it, with clamps attached, had been recovered in 
the previous year by George Hall the civil diver. 




regarded with iiitiiiitely more relish than the huge masses whieh 
made the wliarf jjroaii with their weijrht. Nearly the first 
article recovered was a human skull — sad relic of that catas- 
tro])he which cngiiH'ed in a moment so many sonls : then canio 
n cumbersome nmsk(!t with some fragments of arms that might 
have done honourable service against the foe. Not the least 
interesting was a stick of sealing-wax with its Dutch adver- 
tisement, which translated announced its qualities in these 
recommendatory tenns — " I'ine, well burning, fast holding 
sealing-wax." Skelton foinid a dog-collar inscribed with the 
name of " Thomas Little. Victory. 17!Sl." Tlie little favourite, 
no doubt, went down with its young uia.-ter, who was a mid- 
shipman on board the ill-fated ' Hoy.'il George.' Singular 
that sixty years after, this simple collar should be dug from 
the depths, to become a mournful souvenir of its perished 

Professional divers during the season could not be obtained? 
unless at a cost each, sufficient to pay four or five military 
divers. The latt' , i)aid by the tide, usually earned three or 
four times as as the regvdar working pay of the corps, 
and their success-ful exertions sn])])licd work for about 100 men, 
who were daily emj)l()yed in removing the timbers, ginis, bal- 
la?t, &c. slung by them. To aid the divers in their labours, 
large rakes and half-anchor creepers were drawn over the shoal 
in which the remains of the wreck were lying, by which means 
much of the mud was han-owed up and cleared away. The 
timbers of the wreck were thus somewhat exjjoscd, and five, and 
sometimes six sapper-divers were down at a tide, forcing their 
way through its dangerous tracks, and sending above its pon- 
derous fragments. 

In the course of the season, corporal Jones and ])rivate 
Skelton ascertained a curious fact before unknown in the 
annals of diving. They met at the bottom, and to their 
surprise discovered, when standing close together, they could 
hear each otlu!r speak ; but the knowledge thus obtained could 
not be turned to advantage, as the continued effort to sj)eak 
loudly, exhausted their powers and rendered them unable to 




hold a oonnocted conversation." Skclton also mot George Ilall 
iii t'.ie wreck, to whom lie introduced himself in a way sufR- 
cie itly courteous for divers, hy tapping the clwf on the helmet 
wi It his iron pri'vCi. 

J •ivat': oKelton, as on former occasions, made himself con- 
spicuous hy his skill and diligence as an artificer and his tact as 
a diver ; and in addition, this season, his gallantry led him to 
phmge into the sea to save a hoy who had fallen overhoard, and 
his father who jumped after him, neither of whom could sw im. 
As the tide was running very strong, Skelton, with great judg- 
ment, tied a line round his hody, which he made fast to the 
stern of the ' Success ' frigate, and then jumped into the sea ; 
hut hefore he reached the drowning hoy and his parent, a hoat 
quickly came to hand and saved them. 

Alarming accidents, none of which fortunately proved fatal, 
occurred to lance-corporal Jones, and privates Skelton and 
(Cameron. Corjjoral Jones had his mouth crushed and some of 
his front teeth hroken hy an iron dog, which he had attached to 
a hull rope hearing a heavy strain, slipping from its hold and 
striking him violently under the helmet, lie was at the time 
endeavouring to move a j)iece of timher from the load, when a 
pig of iron hallast, weighing ahout three hundred weight, got 
dislodged and fell upon his helmet. Had not his head been 
thus protected, he would have been killed on the spot, for it 
made an indentation in the metal as large as the ])alm of one's 
hand, and nearly an inch deep. At another time, a large floor 
timber, which resisted many eiforts to sling it, was at last in a 
fair way of reaching the deck, but on heaving on the bull rojjc, 
the chain flew off with violence, and struck Jones a blow on the 
hand, laying bare one of his fingers to the bone. Such was his 
spirit, however, he remained at the work, though the nmtilatcd 
limb might readily have excused him from further duty. 
Anderson, busy at work over the wTcck, lost all idea of time, 

" When corporal Jones first heard the voice, Skelton was singing, — 
" Bright, bright are the huams of the morning sky, 
And sweet are the dews the red blossoms sip." 
This simple incident snfficienlly shows the confidence and coolness of the diver 
in so novel and hazardous a duty. 




and roniainod below inipnulciitly lonjr. ^[eanwliile the tide 
In'jtfan to umi swiftly, and, losinjj his laddor which was fixed on 
tlu! larb( ird side of the linii]), ho was carried under it, and came 
ii|) at the starboard side. The man attendin<r the life-line found, 
on hauliiifr it, that it pulled aj^ainst the keel of the lump, and 
the diver, thus precariously situated, could not be drawn up. 
At first this bad a very alarming appearance, but the evolution 
which broufjht him to the surface, took away the danger of the 
accident, and he aligbte<l on deck without injury. fSkelton was 
coming up from the bottcmi to permit the firing of a charge, but 
by some mismanagement in the signals, the explosion took 
j)lacc when he was a few feet from the surface of the water, and 
the shock injured his chest and rendered him insensible for a 
short time. Four days afterwards he resumed his place as a 
diver with bis usual zeal and activity. Cameron received an 
injury by the bursting of the air-pipe connected with his helmet, 
and when hauled on deck, he was almost dead from suffocation. 
lie recovered, however, after a montli's treatment in Ilaslar 
Hospital, and in some respect to compensate him for his 
suffering, the Admiralty ordered him to receive his subsistence 
free of expense. 

'J'hese accidents never for a moment damped the courage of 
the other men of the detacimicnt, for they were always ready to 
take the j)laces of the injured divers the instant they were 
warned for the duty. Not every man, however, who offered, 
was found capable of diving under such a pressure of water as 
existed at Spithead. The effect of the weight may be conceived 
from the fact, that the strongest cask sent down emjrty cracked 
like an egg-shell. Twelve sappers, in addition to those named 
above, essayed to be of service in the art, but several among 
the most resolute and promising divers after two or three days' 
trial, were compelled to desist from the duty. Headaches, 
giddiness, and spitting of blood, were the effects of their exer- 
tions. Even of the seasoned divers, not a man escaped repeated 
attacks of acute rheumatism and cold ; and it was not a little 
svn'prising to find tlu-m returning to the work even before they 
had ceased to complain of their ailments. Harris, Rae and 




^^'illialns were really martyrs in sufferinff; but, nevej-theless, 
they continued to laboui* at the bottom, even when the sea was 
hitrh, tlie weather l)itterly cold, and their \\imth so bemnnbcd, 
that they could scarcely feel anything that they slung.'" 

Second-corporal McQueen returned to the woods in May to 
res\imc the reconnaissance and survey of the dis])nted territory 
in North America under Cajjtain Brouirhton, R.E., and Mr. 
J.J). FentherstonhauLdi, Her Majesty's commissi(niers. (In the 
3rd May the ISIctis lake was gained, where cori)ora1 ^Mcf^ucen 
was stationed in charge of the observatory until the middle of 
July. Every day for that peruHl he registered, hourly, the 
barometrical observations of nine instruments with thermometers 
both attached and detached. On the 18th July he entered the 
bush again with thirteen Indians and Canadiims, and ])enelrated 
the forest for forty miles, which brought him to the Metjarmette 
mountain. Throughout tins journey he recorded with great 
care, at the a])i)ointed hours, the indications of the different 
instruments in bis charge, and assisted in the various duties of 
tl'.e survey. The mission returned to Lake Metis by a different 
route, ascertaining, as it trau>lled, the so\n'ces of the streams in 
its track, and recording su< n topographical niinutia! of a ])ar- 
ticular character as were desirable to elucidate the duties and 
objects of the enterprise. (Jn the 21th October, I'orporal 
jNIcQueen sjiiled from Quebec i'i<i Halifax, Nova Scotia, to 
England, and arrived at ^Voolwich on the 2()th November, 1841. 
For three seasons he had served with the Connnissioners ; twice 
he was the only British soldier with the exiu'dition, and in 
aj)j)reciation of bis diligence and conduct, was awarded by 
Lord Palincrston, in addition to his working pay, a gratuity 
of 10/." 

]5y warrant dated 21st June, 1841, a company of eighty-nine 

'" .Much of the iiifoiiiiation about the lahours of this summer has been col- 
lectitl from the ' Hampvliiiv Telegraph,' ' Army and Navy liegistei-,' and the 
' Manusciipt .Journal of the Operations.' 

" Afterwards heeanie a sergeant, and served at (iiliraltar. In Oetoher, \Stt2, 
he was pensioned at l.v. 11'/, a-day. lieing a skilful nieehanie, he olituined on 
the day of Ins discharfje, tniphiyment as a l)hieksmilli in llio royal earr.atie dc- 
pailment in the arsenal. 




strong, numbered the 11th, und one quarts naster-serfreant, 
were added to the corps, whicli incroa;-e(l its cstiiliiishnient from 
],208 to l,2y?S of all ranks. The company was raised for 
Ik-rmiuhv at the sug'^estion of the (jiov(>rn()r of the colony, in 
consequence of the impracticability of obtaining artificers fimong 
the civil ])opulation of the recinired competency to carry on the 
works. It did not, however, reach tlu; station — where one 
company was already eni))loyed — until the 2iid April, 1842. 
The (juart('rm;'.ster-s('r<:caut was a])pointe(l for d'^y at Cliat- 
liani, and sergeant Thomas J'raser was promoted to the rank.'* 

Private Ilem-y i-lntwistle distinguished himself on the 30th 
August, l!S41, at ))ontoon practice, by jjlunging into the rapid 
stn -im of the Medway near Rochester Bridac, and at innninent 
person; 1 risk, rescuing from drowning ])rivate Sanuiel Turner 
of the corps, who had fallen overboard and was unable to swim. 
His courage on this occasion gained the admiration of the 
Royal] lumane Society, which awarded him a silver medallion 
a''(;onipanied by a vellum certificate, recording the ])articulars 
of his intrepidity, signed by the Duke of Northumberland.'' 

The detachments at Sandiuirst during tlie year gn-atly ex- 
erted themselves iu the tield-work instruction, and returned to 
the corps receiving much praise for their zeal and good con- 
dutt. Corporal .Tolni C'arlin was in charge of both jiarties, and 
was extremely useful. In the spring term he skilfully ])repared 
the ajijjaratus for a series of sulmcpieous explosions by the 
voltaic battery;" and, at the autunm examination, the rafts 

" Kraser was a siicccssfnl iiKidclltM-, and altliimfih a carpi'iitci- b)- trade, 
made himself useful as a wood eniiravtr Manv nf the wood-euls in Colonel 
Pasley's ' Piaetieal Opeiatioiis of a Siege, were exeeuted In him, and although 
thej- exhibit but little artistic merit, they yet atl'ord scope to show how he 
adapt.'d himself to eireumstances. lie also assisted in the task of engraving 
the most ditlicnlt of the plates to the ' ArehiteeUiral Course.' None of his 
works in this line betray any ambition, but his models were put out of band 
in a skilful and workmanlike manner. As a whole, he Mas a man of singular 
siniidieily. In .luly, ISl'.i, he was pensioned at '2i. :itl. aday, and retiring 
to Kiloelninagan, settled down as a farmer. 

" liecanie a sergeant, and after serving at Corfu and China, was employed 
in the expedition under Lord Haglan to Turkey, liulgaiia, and the Crimea, 
where, from eonlracted in the trenehes iu front of Sebastopol, he died 
■.u eanip before the eonelnsion of the siege. 

i* ' I'nited Service .lourual, ii., 1841, p. \iiu. 




and bridges exhibited on the laltes and canals were ronstrncted 
by him and his i)arty. These consisted of rafts of rough 
timber and bridtres upon various principles, such as floating, 
suspension, and trestle ; also sj)ars heavily loaded at one i iid to 
act as levers, and others interlaced upon a system of mutual 
pressure. In carrying out these services corporal Carlin was 
honourably noticed, " as a non-commissioned officer of much 
merit and iiigeimity."'^ Corporal John ("anieron was also 
mentioned in the Governor's reports for his activity and ability, 
and for having executed with great neatness a quantity of sod 
revetments for the scar])s of the tield-works. 

(.'oloiiel Pasley was removed from the appointment of director 
of the royal engineer establislnnent at Chatham in Novend)er, 
1841, on promotion to the rank of ^lajor-Cieneral.'" Nearly 
thirty years he had held the office, and fulfilled its various func- 
tions with a genius, comi)osure, and success, that no successor 
can ever hope to siu'pass. To him the coi'j)s is largely indebted 
for that military efficiency which has characterized its j)rog;-ess 
since 1812. Diligently superintending its practical exercise 
in all the operations of a siege, as well as in mining, pontooning, 
and bridge-making, and in the numerous other essential details 
of the lield establishment, lie made the corj)s fully ecjual to the 
prosecution of any service in which its assistance might be re- 
quired. Some well-meaning officers of high rank did not see 
the necessity of training the corps in tli(!j)rincipl('s of elementary 
fortification,'" but Colonel Pasley finally overcame their honest 
scruples by earnest argument, lie not only gained this con- 
cession, but was ])ermitted to teach the corps the ( 1 incntary 
prin('i])lcs of geometry and plan-drawing; and ultimately, so 
extensive and complete luwl his system become, that some 

'■' ' Uiiitc'd Service .louriial,' iii.. 1841, p. :>(>:]. ('arliii lucanu' a coUmr-sorgeaut, 
anil p''ior to liis discharge lunl served at (liliraltar and Malta, Turkey and the 
Crimea. When at I'ortsniDnth, he received I'lmn Lord Frederick I'itzclareiice 
a Ki)ld pen and engineerini^ pencil-case, in return "for his most useful services 
in carryiufr out instruction in musketry, in which he proved himself to he ex- 
ccedinf^ly clever in calculations of a rather pn/zling nature, and to he a most 
zealous, active, and painstaking uon-conimissioned oflieer." 

'" '1 he names of the succeeding directors of tlie royal engineer estahlishiuent 
are given in the Appendix III. '' ' Military I'olicy." 




liuiKlreds of non-commissioned officers and men passed from his 
schools, as surveyors and draughtsmen, to the survey of Ireland. 
As a disciplinarian he was rigid ; and in exa. iing from all 
under his command that obedience, attention, and punctuality 
which were the characteristics of his own laborious career, he 
was blind to that partiality or favouritism which could cover the 
indiscretion of one offender and punish that of another. 

Here it mcy be right to show what was the public opinic . of 
the corps at'his period, as contrasted with its state at the com- 
mencement of the Peninsular war, and to whom its improved 
organization and ])erfect efficiency were chiefly attributed. 
" With resj)ect to our engineer establishment, it would pcrliaps 
be difficult to name any occasion oii whicii a tnodeni European 
army took the field so utterly destitute of efficient means for 
conducting siege operations as were tlie British troops at the 
opening of the last war. At this moment, on the contrary, no 
army in tiie world possesses engineer officers and soldiers better 
instructed in all tlu-t relates to the science and j)ractice of this 
bi'anch of the service. We liave heard one of the most able 
and most experienced of those officers <lecl<ire, that when he was 
first called upon to take ])art in some siege operations at the very 
outset of the war, he had never seen a gabion, nor was there a 
soldier in tlie fmre who knew how to make one. To carry on 
a saj). or drive the gallery of a mint!, was alike an impossible 
attempt. The army liad neither a single saji))er, miner, or 
pontonecr, and a few drunken and worthless military artificers 

formed the oidy engineer troops The lessons of ex- 

j)erience thu» dearly bought have not been acquired in vai.:. 
Tl:e practical engineer school at Chatham, organised and long 
directed by Colonel Pasley, has j)roduced a corps of sappers and 
miners equal to any in Eurojje. Their (>xere;ses on the Med- 
way have likewise given them tlit; cpialitics of excellent jion- 
toneers." '* 

Another extract from the same journal, relative to the con- 
duct of the corj)s and the inniolicy of the reductions which have 
taken i)lace in its numbers since the return of the army of 

'" 'United Sorvici' Jimiiial,' i., lSl:i, \\[t. Jii, 27. 



occupation from France in 1818, should not be suppressed : — 
" The reductions in the sappers and miners since the war are 
nnicli to he rcfrretted ; and it wouhl bo more wise to orfjanize 
tliem equividontly to two battalin of ciffht companies. They 
are a description of troops invaluable in every resj)ect, — being 
as soldierlike, and well trained ii. the duties of infantry, as the 
best regiments of that arm, and therefore ecjually available for 
all military services in j^^arrisons and quarters ; while their 
qualities as artificers are by no means confined to admirable 
proficiency in their pro])er busiiie^^s as ouiiineer-soldiers, in th(! 
management of tlie jiontoon-train and tlie conduct of siege 
operations. Their exemplary conduct offers an illustration of a 
principle too nuich neglected in the discipline of modern 
armies — that to find constant and wholesome occupation fi.i 
trooj)s, as indeed for mankind in every situation, is the best 

security both fir hapi)iness and good order But in the 

case of this engineer cor])s, apart from t'le important object of 
keeping up an efficient body for those pec^uliar duties of their 
arm in the field, whicli recjuire a regular course of practical 
education, we are convinced it would be found true economy to 
increase ifh force fortiie repair and maintenance of the numerous 
fortifications in eviM-y quarter of our colonial enq)ire." '" 

This perhaps is the fittest place to introduce a glowing testi- 
mony to the ctu'ps, jienned by one well ac(iu;iinted with its 
merits and defects, and too impartial to appinid his name to any 
but a falthfid record. " Indeed,"' writes Sir John Jones, 
"justice requires it to be said, that these men, whether em- 
ployed on brilliant ni.r.ti"' «(-rvices, or engaged in tlie more 
humble duties of their calling, ; unci' under the viM'tical sun of 
the tropics, or in the frozen regions of the north, invaiiably 
conduct themselves as good soldiers ; and by tlu'ir bravery, 
their industry, or their ac(iuirenii'rt<, amply repay the trouble 
and exjjense of their formation and instruction.""'"' 

Nor should the testimony of the chaplain-general, the IJcv. 
G. R. CJleia; bi> omitted. Unconnected as he is witli the royal 

I" Tiiiliil Si'r\i«' .limnial,' i., 18(1, p. 44:). 
"" Jones's ' Sieges,' ii. p. .'i'Jl, ami edit. 





sappers and miners, his opinion lias been formed withont the 
prejudice of interested feelings. In taking a hird's-eye retro- 
S])ect of the formation and growth of sonu' of onr military 
institutions, he thus speaks of the corps : '' Besides the infantry, 
cavalry and artillery, of which the regular army was composed, 
and the cor})s of engineers, coeval with the latter, there sprang 
up during the war of the French Revolution other descrijjtions 
of force, which proved eminently useful each in its own depart- 
ment, and of the composition of which a few words will suffice 
to give an account. Fir^t, the avtiticers as they were called, 
that is to say, the body of men trained to the exercise of me- 
chanical arts, such as carjjcntry, liricklaying, bridgemaking, and 
so forth, which in all ages seem to have attended on a Ihitish 
army in the field, became the royal sa])pers and miners, whose 
services, on many trying occasions, ])rovcd eminently useful, and 
who still do their duty cheerfully and satisfactorily in every 
(piarter of the globe. During the late war, they were com- 
manded under the officers of engineers, by a body of officers 
who took no higher rank than that of lieutenant, and consisted 
entirely of good men, to whom their merits had earned ccmi- 
missions. Their education, carried on at Woolwich and 
Chatham, trained them to act in the field as guides and 
directors to all working parties, whether the business in hand 
might be the construction of a bridge, the throwing nj) of field 
works, or the conduct of a siege. N\'hatever the engineer 
officers required the troops to do was exj)lained to a party of 
sappers, who, taking' each his separate charge, showi'd the 
soldiers of the lint; both the sort of work that was re(piired of 
them, and the best and readiest method of performing it. The 
regiment of sap])ers was the growth of the latter years of the 
contest, after tin; British army iiad fairly thro vn itself into the 
gn^at arena of continental warfare, and proved so useful, that 
while men wondcri'd how an army e\er could have; been 
accounted complete without this a])])endai;e. the idea of dis- 
pensmg with it in any time to come, seems never to have arisen 
iu the minds of the most economical." '' 

" (tleig's ' Mil. Hist.,' oli. xxvii., pp. -JSii, iS7. 





Party to Natal — The march — Action at C'ongella — Hocrs attack the camp — 
Then besiege it — Sortie on llic Hoers' trenches — Incidents — Privations — 
("onduct of the detaclnnent; courageous liearing of sergeant Young — Ser- 
vices of the ])arty after liostilities liad ceased — Detachment to the Falliland 
Islands — Landing— t'iianicter of the country — Services of the party — Its 
movements; and amusements — Professor Airy"s opinion of the corps- Fire 
at Woolwich; its consequences — Wreck of the ' Hoyal George' — Classiflca- 
tion of the divers — (^orporal Harris's exertions in removing the wreck of 
the ' Perdita' mooring ligliter — Assists an unsuccessful comrade — DiHicul- 
ties in recoviri[ig the pig-inm ballast — Adventure witli Mr. Cussell's lighter 
—Isolation of Jones at the bottom — Annoyed by the presence of a human 
body ; Harris, less sensitive, captures it — The keel — Accidents— Conflict be- 
tween t"o rival divers — (^onduct of the sappers employed in the operations 
— Deniolilion of beacons at BIythe Sand, Shcerness — Testimonial to sergeant- 
major Jones for his services in connection with it. 

In .Tamiary, 1842, a small force under tlie (•oinniaiul of Captain 
Sinitli, 27th refj;iitieiit, was sent to the I ingiizi, ahout ten mik-s 
poutli of the Uniziinvoolwo, to watcli the movements of the 
]?oers, who had attacked a iitltive cliief in alliance with the 
colonial oovcniineiit. With this I'ovce was (hitaclied a jtarty of 
eight royal sappers and miners tnider Lieutenant C. H. (lihh 
of the enoinem's. There tlie exi)edition was eMi'aMi|)i'd for a 
season, when a portion of it, on the 31st March, (jnitted tiie 
Uintrazi for Natal, taking with them seventy wheeled carriages 
and luimerous oxen. The sappers took the li>ad of the colunni 
to remove uhstructlons on the route. Tht; force comprised 
about 2 50. www, cluvtl^ \\{ the 2J\\\ veailUVUt, !Hk\ u 1'«'W ai'til- 
lerymen. , 

In the journey to Natal, a distance of more than fiOO miles, 
tl\t>, greatest diilicnltics were encountered. Much of the ground 
traversed was very marslty. Hivulets and larger streams were 
HO much incre«V«wl h) the rains tiiat tlie hroken drifts lu'nms 




them had frequently to be renewed or ropairod after one or 
two wajrgons liad crossed. Several very steep hills had to he 
surmounted, one of which was the Uniterda, over which the 
hunter and trader had never attcnijited to take his wagnron 
without first dismantlinj^ it, and then carrying it u]) or down. 
U]) tliis rugged hill, formed of huge houlders of granite im- 
hedded in a swamp, a rough road was ('(mstrncted : and hy 
putting three spans of oxen — thirty-six bullocks — to each wag- 
gon, all, after three days' heavy labour and fatigue, were got 
to the summit. Constantly in their progres.-- they had to 
improve the roads, to cut through wood and Imsh, to toil along 
the sand on the shore, and ocx-asionally, harnessing themselves 
with ropes, drag the unwieldy train along wild ])asses and 
almost im))enetrable tracts of fastness. ^Vt length, after a most 
harassing march of six weeks, of straining energy and arduous 
exertion, having crossed one hundred and seventy-two rivern and 
streams, nuich of the journey under violent rain, and often 
sleeping at night on the swampy ground, the troops reached 
Natal on the 3rd May, and encamped at the head of the bay ; 
from whence they afterwards removed to the; Itafa Amalinde, 
where they intrenched themselves, and placed beyond the 
paraj)et, for additional protection, the waggons which accom- 
panied tlie force. 

Tlie Iliii'Ps were opposed to the presence of the troops, and 
desired llieiii to quit the country. Tiiis wa." unheeded by the 
English eonnnandant, and hostilities nt once commenced. On 
the niglit of the 2.'h'd Afny, (^aptain Smith, in eoinmand of a 
portion of iiis force, left tlie camp and attacked the Hoers at 
('ongelln, taking with hiiu seven sa])])ers and miners, armed 
and carrying tools. When the enemy o])ened fire, the troops 
were in fil(! up to their knees in water. Private BiU'rldge fired 
the first ^hot in tiii' eugageuuMit. jNIorc than an iimir the con- 
tost continued witliout any one being able to take a direct aim ; 
and, wlieu the troojis connnenced th(> retreat, they were up to 
thcnr armpits in water. Here a sergeant of the 27th was shot, 
who would have been carried away in the receding tide, had not 
sergeant Young with two of the sappers, la-ought him across the 

vol,. I, 2 c 




hay to tlu> caiu]), whtM'o his renijiiiis wore iiiterretl. Private 
William Hiirridge was wouiulod in tlie knee. 

On regaininj,' the eauip all were served out with fres-li aniinu- 
nitioii, and, when about to lie down, the Boers attacked the 
position and only retired at daylight in the morning. During 
the action half of the pole of the sajjpers' tent was carried away 
by a shot, aud the waggon in their front was pierced by eleven 
balls. Private lliehard Tibbs on this occasion received three 
balls in his clothes and was wounded. 

Soon afterwards (iJlst May) the Boers, comprising a force of 
about 1200 men and nine guns, conmienced to besiege the 
camp. This they continued with vigour till the 2l)th June, when 
a reinforcement having reached the cantonment from the frontier, 
hostilities ceased. Throughout the operations the eight sap])ers 
were employed superintending the execution of such works as 
the circumstances of the siege rendered indis])ensable. These 
included a redoubt, to preserve the conununication with the 
port and village, and a magazine. Tiiey al.-^o assisted in 
constructing a large kraal of stakes and abattis, for the safety 
of the cattle. The waggons were likewise drawn closer in, to 
make the defence more compact ; and from a trtnich, dug on 
the inside, the earth was thrown under the body of the waggons, 
which were thus imbedded in the parapet. By this means the 
troops were enabled to fire over the parapet and iniderneath the 
bed of the waggons ; and by leaving traverses in the line of 
trench, the camp was protected from enfilade. Daily the 
sappers were occupied in repairing the earth-works, and almost 
unassisted, built a battery for an 18-pounder gun in the south 
angle of the iiitrenchmcnt. Sergeant Young, under Lieutenant 
Gibb, was the executive non-connnissioned officer in conducting 
the field-works, and twice every day he went round the trenches, 
reported what was nece:rsary to strengthen the defences, and 
carried out the directions of his officer. 

On the night of the 8th June, serg(;aut Young and three 
sappers carrying their arms and intrenching tools, accompanied 
the i-ortic to the BfUM's' trenches under Lieutenant Irwin, 27th 
n>sximent. The enemy retreated and the trenches were de- 









stroyed. On tlio 18th following tlirce i-n])|i('rs wore prevent in 
ii .second sortie under Lieutenant Moleswortli of the 27t!i, niid 
led the column to the points of attack. The eoiifiiet wa.s short 
hut tierce, and the troops returned to the ca:ni) with the loss of 
one officer and tln'i;e irien killed, and four wounded. Ainoni' 
the latter was private Uicliard Til)l)s of the sappers. 

Dnrinjj the sie^e, j)rivat(< John Ilowatson liad made some 
wooden cradles for snr<rical purposes, and on iinishing one, 
l)e<rge(l the doctor to look at it. IJotli stooj)ed to do so, when 
a (>-pound shot pas.'^ed w ithiu a few inches of their heads and 
whizzed by tlio rest of the j)arty in the trench. When 
Lieutenant Gibb's servant was killed, corporal Deary and 
private Burridgo buried lihn outside the waggons, and the 
melancholy service was not accomplished without much daring 
and danger. 

j\s the siege progressed provisions became scarce and the 
troop.s were put on the smallest possible allowance. Horses 
were killed and their tlesh made into biltong. Tiiis, with a 
little beef, formed the daily rc})ast of tlu; canij) ; and in lieu of 
meal and biscuit, ground oats were issued. Upon this fare it 
was impossible to hold out more than fourteen days, but a 
strong reinforcement arrived on the 'H'Ah June, and effecting a 
landing, the Boers retreated with loss and liaste from the beach 
and the trenches, and the siege terminated. With the relief 
were three men of the sappers, wlio increased the strength of 
the Natal party to eleven of all ranks.' 

Lieutenant (iibb in his reptn't to head-quarters praised 
sergeant Young, corporal Deary, and the detachment for their 
iLsefulness, alacrity, and cheerfulness ; and ( 'ai)tain Smith in 
comnumd, eulogized them for their luiiform activity and readi- 
ness of resource in the presence of the enemy. When quitting 
Natal, the latter officer favoured sergeant Young with a 
testimonial in the following terms : " As I am about to 
relinquish the command, I am desirous to bear testimony to 
the high and irreproachable character of sergeant Young of the 

I Much of the above iiifoniiiition is taken from t'uptaiii Giiib's ' Mcmoninda 
111 ('(irps Papers/ i., pp. ^.'SD-SoS. 

2 1^ 2 




royal sappors and miners. Ilavinj^ accompaniod tlie expedition 
from the Umj^azi to Natal early in 1H42, and sliared in all its 
subsequent dan<^ers and privations, 1 cannot s])eak too liif^lily of 
his courage and self-possession, and his unwearied zeal in the 
perfornianet! of his various and arduous duties. IIi; was always 
at his ])ost and never found wantinjj ; and I therefore 1h'<j to 
reeonniieud him to notice as one of the best and most trust- 
worthy non-eoumiissioned officers I have met with durinjif my 
lonj^ course of service." 

After the siege the detachment built a sod wall round the 
camp and loopholed it, within which they constructed a tem- 
porary barracks of wood, working from daylight to dark even 
on Sundays. A wattle barracks for iiUO men was next erected 
by them, and afterwards a block-hous(! at Port Natal. They 
also extended their services to the requirements of Fort Najjier, 
Van Vooren, Hushnian's River, and the neighl)ouring j)()sts in 
the district, during which time their head-quarters was established 
at Pietermauritzburg, where a party of ten or twelve men have 
ever since been employed.'^ 

Sergeant Robert Jlearnden and eleven rank and file, detached 
in the brig ' Hebe' in October, 1841, to the Falkland Islands, 
under Lieutenant R. C. Moody, R.E., the J lieutenant-Governor 
of the colony, arrived there on the l.jth January, 1842. Three 
women and seven children accompanied the party. The men 
were volunteers and of trades suitable to the experiment of 
improving an old but neglected settlement. They were armed 
with percussion carbines, carrying a sword with a serrated back, 
which was affixed to the piece when necessary as a bayonet.^ 

* Young, as a sergeant, was overseer of the works at Natal, at 2s, GJ, a-day, 
in addition to his regimental allowiinees ; and, for his gallant eonduct in action 
and useful services, was awarded a silver medal and an animity of 111/, a-year. 
In .July, 1850, lie retired to Charleston, of Aherlour, in lianll'shire, on a pension 
of 2s. a-day. He was a stern and an ahrupt soldier, but an example of faith- 
fulness, accuracy, and exertion. 

'■' This weapon was proposed for adoption in tlie corps both as a sword for 
personal defence and an instrument for removing obstructions on active ser- 
vice; but Sir (jeorge Murray, then Master-General, refused to sanction its 
introduction, considering it to be an improper weapon to be used in civilized 






After bearing tip Korkc^ltjy Souiul the party landod at Port 
Louis on the 23r(l tJaiiuary, and were present as a guard of 
honour to liis ICxccllcnoy on taking over tlie gDvennnent of 
the Kalkhmd Ishuids. The inhabitants were assiMiibh-d to 
receive bini and tlie Lieutenant-Governor made them a gracious 

Soon the men became acquainted with the nature of the 
country tliey had been sent to improve. Its land was unfruit- 
ful and its charcaeter inhos])itable. Vegetation was so scant 
and tlie soil so poor, that nowhere could a tree be seen. 
Large barren tracts of country, softened into mud by perpetual 
rains, even'where met the eye ; and the luxuries of living 
embraced but few varieties beyond fish, flesh, and fowl, 
[fouses there were none, nor was there any society or amuse- 
ment. What with rain, snow, fogs, gales, and temjiests, the 
I'alkland Islands have well been called the region of storms. 
Tlie population, not more than 200 in all, consisted of a 
dissipated set of ruffians, the depraved renegades of different 

AfttT landing the stores and provisions from the ' Hebe,' 
the detachment was put to work. Two portable houses were 
in course of time